The organic gardening movement has been going since the 1920's and really, it's about remembering how we used to farm food before we discovered chemical fertilisers, pesticides and preservatives.
A sense of powerlessness can paralyse if a problem seems too large. How do we fix land degradation with just a vegetable patch? You would be surprised. What you do on your patch of the earth does make a difference. And growing organically is the first, giant leap to ecological gardening.
In England, nature reserves occupy 85,000 acres, while gardens take up more than 1 million acres. So if all of them are using organic techniques, you have a healthy chunk of country. But the concept I want to share with you is the idea of using your patch of land to not only garden organically, but ecologically.
Huge advances in specialized farming practises have helped the world grow food productively and safely. As often happens with humans though, we tend to go overboard and sometimes end up with unintended consequences.
There is nothing wrong for our desire to control nature in order to provide more and serve us better, but thinking of the future should be part of our plans. If we don't monitor and control our march of domination, we are in danger of destroying the very hand that feeds us.
As Helen Cushing says in her book "Beyond Organics: Gardening for the Future" "When we begin to think of the combined size of gardens, rather than individual size, new possibilities begin to emerge in terms of their ecological role.
Going beyond organics means shifting our concept of gardening from one that is based around human needs, desires, aspirations and perceptions, to one than encompasses nature's point of view.
It means understanding the big environmental picture that our small gardens are a part of, and gardening in a way that maximises the garden's positive contribution to the well-being of that wider environment. It means seeing our garden as a piece of the global landscape that interacts constantly with the ecology both within and beyond our fence lines."
Cushing goes on to describe ways to do this by creating natural habitat for the birds, insects and small animals that are native to your area. Building up the soil to create a vibrant ecosystem that will naturally thrive and survive while natural habitats are being wiped out.
She describes birds, frogs and organic gardeners as a dream team. The book is Australian-centric in terms of the plants and conditions she goes into detail on, but the concepts really smacked me between the eyes. It's worth considering ecological gardening... especially the next time you are replacing garden plants.
For details on someone who is gardening ecologically read Jeannie's Garden.