Gardeners have often been willing to try using anything that will help their plants grow. Unfortunately, some tools that people once thought were safe turn out to have harmful effects. Gardening with chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers can result in serious health issues for people and animals, and these chemicals can also hurt the environment. It is possible to garden without pesticides, though, and you may find that you enjoy the fruits and vegetables you grow even more when you grow them without using chemicals.
What Are Pesticides?
Pesticides are substances that are used to get rid of pests, like bugs that can damage your plants. How a product is intended to be used determines whether it is classified as a pesticide. Any gardening product that claims to remove, repel, or kill a pest is probably a pesticide. If you see pictures of pests on a product label that claims to kill pests, it may also be a pesticide. Pesticides are often used when growing food to keep insects from damaging plants. Pesticides may also be used to keep insects such as mosquitoes away from humans.
Pesticides usually contain a mixture of active and inert ingredients. The active ingredients are the chemicals that kill or repel pests. The inert ingredients are often a mystery, as manufacturers don’t always have to tell people what these ingredients are. Any of the chemicals in pesticides may be bad for human health, as well as pests. Sometimes, the inert ingredients can be just as toxic as the active ingredients. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 1,000 different pesticides are used around the world.
Benefits of Growing a Garden Without Pesticides
Organic gardening, which is gardening without the use of chemicals, can be great for both the environment and human health. Using pesticides on plants can help protect the plants against insects and other pests, but these chemicals often stay on the plants, so if you eat them, you can get the pesticides inside of your body. Some of the chemicals found in pesticides and fertilizers may cause damage to the human body. It’s possible that these chemicals can cause reduced brain function, infertility, depression, autism, miscarriages, birth defects, and cancers like breast cancer, prostate cancer, and childhood leukemia.
Pesticides can also go into the soil, where they kill good microbes living in the soil that help keep the soil fertile. Pesticides can also wash off the plants when it rains, and this moves the chemicals into drains and into local rivers, creeks, and lakes, where they can harm animals and people in other places.
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When you garden without using chemicals, sometimes, you have to get creative to help the plants grow well and prevent weeds from taking over. Cover the soil between plants with cardboard, layers of newspaper, or landscape fabric to smother weeds and prevent them from growing around your plants. You can also improve your soil naturally with compost, which you can buy or make yourself using things like kitchen scraps and grass clippings. Mixing compost into the soil makes the soil rich and full of nutrients without having to add chemicals to it. Mulch around your plants to help the soil stay moist, and when you have to water, water in the morning so that the sun can dry off the plant leaves during the day. And if you ever see a sick plant in your garden, take it out right away so that the disease doesn’t spread to other plants.
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