The following information was collated by Steve Benham from the Auckland Botanic Gardens.
Check out the “Good to Go Organic” poster!
Organic gardening is about creating a healthy, living, balanced garden by feeding the soil’s creatures so that they improve soil structure and fertility, leading to healthy plant growth, healthy food and healthy us. It’s also about recycling, so instead of using pesticides or artificial fertilisers, you can compost kitchen and garden waste to make wonderful soil conditioner and plant food. This way you’re not contributing towards the filling up of landfills that spoil our natural landscapes. Organic gardens help to conserve wildlife, too, by encouraging birds and other beneficial creatures that keep garden pests under control. They are, consequently more attractive places to be. The environmental benefits are significant.
You’ll find that nothing beats the flavour of home-grown, freshly picked organic-grown fruit and vegetables. They’re free of chemicals and packed with health-giving nutrients, so they’re pure and wholesome. And there are more varieties to enjoy if you buy seeds, especially if you select heirloom varieties, rather than produce from the supermarket – a whole new world of culinary delights awaits you…
Five reasons to eat organic
- Eat well – On average, organic fruit and vegetables contain higher levels of vitamin C, essential minerals and cancer-fighting antioxidants
- Avoid additives – such as hydrogenated fats, aspartame (artificial sweetener) and monosodium glutamate
- Reduce your pesticide intake – Over 400 pesticides are routinely used in conventional farming and residues are often present in non-organic food
- Care for animals – The benefits of the organic approach are recognised by animal welfare organisations
- Protect wildlife and the environment – Organic farming is better for wildlife, causes lower pollution from sprays, produces less carbon dioxide – the main global warming gas – fewer dangerous wastes
Ten tips for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs successfully
- Grow fruit, vegetables and herbs that your family love to eat
- Grow in an open sunny spot
- Choose fruit, vegetables and herbs to suit your part of the country – preferably grow heirloom varieties. Diversity is the keystone of organic growing
- A healthy soil is essential for success. Feed the soil with homemade garden compost.
- Never sow or plant until the soil is warm enoug
- Use organic-based fertilisers where needed
- Choose varieties with natural pest and disease resistance
- To help with pest control, grow flowers that will attract pest-eating insects
- Grow without the use of toxic sprays
- Don’t grow related vegetables – in the same family group – in the same spot year after year – practice rotation of crops
Benefits of growing your own
- You’ll never forget your first home-grown, sun-warmed tomato, the freshness of a newly picked lettuce, the sweet spicy aroma of rosemary…..
- Growing fruit and vegetables is rewarding, fulfilling, empowering and fun. Anyone can do it. It’s fundamental to our very existence.
- Provides healthy exercise for body, mind and soul. For some it’s a deeply spiritual experience.
- Freshly harvested, organic-grown fruit and vegetables have a much higher nutritional value than commercially non-organic grown ones and tastier too. We are what we eat. The protein, vitamin and mineral content of much of our food has dropped alarmingly in recent years. The protein content of our food is an important factor in combating invading organisms to our body. These proteins help to produce active antibodies for our protection and immunity.
- No need to peel or scrub organically grown fruit before eating.
- Surplus fruit and vegetables can be given away to family and friends.
- Helps to reduce ‘food miles’. Growing your own eliminates the need to spend enormous energy costs on transporting food around the country.
- Encourages one to eat seasonally – buying out of season produce is incredibly energy-intensive and often detrimental to the local environment and its people. Re-connects us with the seasons.
- Eliminates our immediate concerns and uncertainties surrounding genetically modified food crops if we grow traditional varieties.
- Helps educate our children and future generations about where our food comes from.
- Herbs such as lavender, chamomile have powers to soothe the troubled mind and stressed bodies. It is the unique vibrational energy (plant spirit) quality of a plant which gives off energy to help us “recharge” ourselves.
General tips about ethical eating
- Eat less but better
- Eat no more than you expend on energy
- Eat a plant-based diet with less flesh
- Eat seasonally whenever possible
- Eat according to the proximity principle – support local suppliers
- Cook quick simple meals; leave fancy recipes for special occasions
- Drink water instead of soft drinks
- Be aware of hidden ingredients – check labels for artificial colourings, sugars, salt.; if they are added don’t buy the product
- Celebrate food variety; think about biodiversity by aiming to eat 20-30 species a week
- Think of fossil fuels; energy transporting food to you, or you to food = oil
- Eat equitably – don’t take the food out of another person’s mouth
- Be prepared to pay the full costs; if you don’t others will
- Educate yourself without becoming neurotic!!
- Enjoy food in the short term but think about its long-term impact
- Fruits and vegetables (excepting root vegetables) are best eaten as soon as possible after harvesting otherwise they quickly lose their vitamin content
- Vegetables are ideally eaten when not fully cooked. Over cooking can destroy their nutrient and fibre value. If need be, gently steam or stir-fry fresh vegetables. Microwave cooking is not recommended – this method destroys the cell structure of the plant
- Eat less processed foods and eat more variety, but in moderation
- The more colours from a variety of fruit and vegetables on the food plate, the higher the nutritional value of the meal – eat your colours everyday!
- RED coloured vegetables help maintain: a healthy heart, memory function, urinary tract health
- YELLOW / ORANGE coloured vegetables help maintain: a healthy heart, vision health, a healthy immune system
- BROWN / WHITE coloured vegetables help maintain: a healthy heart
- GREEN coloured vegetables help maintain: vision health, strong bones and teeth
- BLUE / PURPLE coloured vegetables helps maintain: urinary tract health, memory function, healthy aging
- Top Ten Vegetables for vitamins and minerals – broccoli / spinach / brussels sprouts / butter beans / peas / asparagus / artichokes / cauliflowers / kumara / carrots
** FAST FOOD – Fruit is the ultimate fast food, which can be eaten straight from the plant!