Friday, 29 August 2014

I am not an organic gardener

Hello and how are you, I'm just back from my holidays and this is NOT the post I was going to write today. But, I'll delight you with all things Alpine later. I've had to 'hud me weeisht' today (keep quiet) on the subject of using herbicides, in order not to offend. The cars not even unpacked and I'm finding myself none too pleased with a few folks around me.  I was accused of being 'one of those organic types' today, I'm not, but I'm not a fan of taming the natural world either. Neither do I mind being labelled organic.  Whilst I am not an organic gardener (a hearty hello to all of you organic or not, its a personal choice after all), I don't especially regard sploshing the countryside and natural world outside my own garden with chemicals just to keep it tidy. So you'll excuse the enshewing midders, girns and pleeps (moans and groans) from me today.

When first in my company a few things might come as a surprise. I'm short, not quite microscopic but its apparent I'll not filling the top shelves in my cupboards anytime soon. I think in Scots and I speak in English, we moved around a lot as kids (father in forces) so that's just how it is. I'm also not a vegetarian, my passion for a sustainable life is fiery, tempered with a love for the environment, but my choice is to eat meat. I don't make my choices lightly but neither do I preach to others.  I'm also not an organic gardener. 

The latter generally predisposes furrowed brows from some folks and downright outrage from others. You love nature they cry. I do dear heart I reply. You should be organic they shout. I'm not, I say. I'm a natural gardener, I'm not organic and I use the right methods in my garden to suit my needs at any given time. As a last resort I'll use a chemical (fertilisers, weedkillers, anti-fungals etc), but its a last resort, its a tool and not one to be used lightly in my opinion. Yes I'm one of 'those' gardeners, the kind that are careful but know when things need done a certain way.  No, I'm not organic. I've chickens to eat slugs rather than pellets, that's my choice. For me its still a method but its more natural. My choice.

Normally I temper my views to suit any situation. Normally. Like most folks I'm blessed with a large large mouth and opinions to boot, but I'm mindful and kind, manners cost nothing after all. However, whilst I'm not an organic gardener, I see no circumstances in which nature should be tamed, combed and 'tidied' unless necessary. Our 'wild' spaces between the nooks and crannies of life, of food production, silage fields, towns, villages, and human life are very few and far between. How many 'natural' places around you are there, around me, not many I have to say. But, we (or them if we'd like to take a side) seem to be constantly trying to 'tidy' the wild bits. Just like the unnecessary mowing of verges, which also gets me insanely mad. One day a frenzy of colours and butterflies, bees and life. The next a short mown green desert.  Wild spaces and the general natural world, are not gardens.  What a futile waste of energy taming nature really is. Nature normally wins. Where it doesn't, lifes never the same again.

Weedkillers, like all chemicals I think have their place. Mostly I like them on the shelves of the DIY store, untouched by human hand until absolutely necessary. I have no issue using them if needed. And, the 'if' in question is in neon lights, bold, prefixed with a large warning and flashing, just for effect. So why am I spouting. Several occasions lately I've come across blatant mindless spraying of herbicides on bits of the landscape around me just to keep things 'tidy'.  It makes me cross. I've been banded as one of those 'organic types', well I respect folks choices but I'm not an 'organic type' I'm a natural type. I like nature, I love my garden. The two are not the same thing.

I've yet to see an argument to keep 'nature' under control that's really worth listening too and all in the name of 'gardening'. I'm vexed because someone's cleared the lane of 'nature', you know that nasty stuff that grows 'untidily', makes a 'mess' by just 'being there' and you know 'living'. Of course it had to be tamed and sorted. Someone had to do SOMETHING about it all, after all it was, you know, messy. Imagine wild plants jostling about in a lane, growing away quite nicely. I mean what were they thinking. So it got 'tidied up' and is now nicely brown and sludgy in a post-herbicide fug.

These kind of practices not only get my goat up (yes there were some lovely seedlings in among the 'untidy sprawl' of that lane, I'd hoped to save) they also give us mindful non-organic types a bad name. And, never mind the fact that the bees and butterflies were having a wee party each day on the plants growing away and minding their own business. Aside the loss of food sources and brown dreary mess that's left behind, the only thing achieved by trying to tame wild bits of countryside outside others gardens, is an empty pocket for the fool who's sprayed it bare.

Maybe I'm vexed because I'd been idly spying at the lane at the end of my garden to pop the chickens in there for a while or too in their mobile netting, to scoff the lot and clear it back for the winter.

Maybe I'm vexed for the butterflies and bees who've had their food robbed potentially forever.

Maybe I'm vexed for the frogs and toads I knew hung out there, who I hope got out safe before the sprayers wand worked its 'magic'.

Maybe I'm vexed for the misspent energy used to spray the lane could have been used to plant a tree or two, grow a cabbage or plant a flower.

Maybe I'm vexed for the wee poppy seed head which once had so much hope in saved seeds for next year which is sodden and blemished and contaminated.

Maybe I'm vexed despite the public communal space we share, others take it upon themselves to tame something beautiful and innocuous, without asking first. Without giving others the chance to voice a different point of view. So not cool, man, so not cool.

I'm not an organic gardener, never will be, but I'm mindful of my interaction with the land and its other occupants. There are several good arguments for practicing organic gardening, and as many for using a mindful, sensible approach too which will occasionally lead to using chemicals. I've no issue with that, as long as its informed choices. 

Next time I see the spraying suit come out in our neighbourhood, I might send in the chickens for a first attack, before the tanks filled. I have no issue with the right tool for the job, but not every job requires such a heavy hand.

And, whilst I may not be organic, I've a grand shovel arm if required. I don't mind a wee dunt on the heid to get some sense knocked into folks now and again.

So if you'll excuse me I'm off to the lane to start my own peace camp, before the next invasion of 'nature smoother-outer'ers' arrive.  The chickens have assured they'll assist.

Wild spaces aren't gardens, we all should remember that.

And that's all I have to say about that. For once, Greta's in agreement. Send in the chickens.


  1. [Peers tentatively from behind the sofa] Oof, you don't beat about what's left of the bush, eh? Sorry to hear that someone's rained chemicals on Nature's parade. At least 'they' haven't planted a row of Brachyglottis...

    Looking forward to hearing about your holiday, though.

    1. Sir Intense, up from the sofa and show yourself to be unarmed. :) The worst thing about it all is that as the nettles had almost reached flowering, they strimmed the lane. Then they left it a good couple weeks to get the growth properly flushed and hit it with chemicals. There's amphibians in that there jungle. Makes me mad, even though its proper spraying practice to make that thorough. Grr - shakes a friendly fist. I just don't see the point of folks turning the countryside into a garden. As for the shrub you're right. Ages back in Orkney we did verge surveys to stop the councils mowing the bonnie bits. As I watched a huge row of poppies (right road hazards they are eh?) being destroyed I have often pondered council cutbacks and 'poverty' measures. Surely the money used to decimate verges and alike could be used to feed folk? Call me old fashioned but it seems a bit obvious.

      Holiday was good. I went to the top of the world Jungfrau glaciers etc and came back with a good load of botanical photograpsh, no people, no food, no mountain shots. I leave the important stuff to TRG so I'll have to steal a few of his photos.

      I disliked mountains they hurt my legs. However the alps have agreeable trains and cable cars to take you upwards. Much more pleasant than aching calves. So I've changed my mountain status to 'like' when equipped with vertical aids. More on that later.


  2. Well said, i hate pesticides and i have bought some to tame the weeds in my patio..but i couldn't use them when a found a frog family and a hedgehog. I thought no. I also don't want to harm the local feline population with them...even if they poop a lot in the garden :D

  3. Well said. How I wish everyone was like you - I am an Organic gardener, 100% totally and utterly . It IS extra work, even with all my wildlife helpers, because I don't spray. But that is MY choice and I accept that a lot of people have their own reasons for sometimes needing to use judicious amounts of certain chemicals. And that's ok with me IF they take the attitude you do. So again, well done :)