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Organic Gardening

Excerpts from the NHNE newsletter, article titled Organic Farming Finishes First
(Source: Organic Farming via Spectrum, May-June/97)

One of the commonly-heard arguments in defense of chemical farming is that it is more productive than organic agriculture, thereby justifying the use of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, but one study indicates that this may not be the case. The longest-running experiment in the U.S. comparing chemical and organic farming is the Rodale Institute's Farming Systems Trial. For over 15 years, it has compared three farming systems side by side at the Rodale Institute Experimental Farm in Pennsylvania. One field uses chemical fertilizers and herbicides; the other two fields use mechanical weed controls -- one using legumes for fertilizer, the other manure. In normal years, the organic fields produce the same amount as the chemical field. However, in years with low rainfall, the soil of organic fields, being of higher quality, holds more water and air, thus enabling the organic fields to out-produce the chemical one. In the relatively dry year of 1995, for example, the organic legume-based system produced 148 bushels of corn per acre, compared to 115 bushels with the chemical system.

Some of the information presented at this site on Organic Vegetable Gardening could be adapted to our indoor food production.

Offered by Mike.

This method has been used by the French for over 400 years and should help as a basis for large scale gardening. The biggest foreseeable difficulty I perceive in large-scale organic farming is the need for additional manpower to monitor the crops. Insects and soil vitality can quickly get out of balance if not monitored almost daily. There is a local farmer that grows vegetables on a large scale and he employs a crew of 12 or more farm-hands to harvest and patrol the fields daily. This farmer uses some of the organic basics, though he is not completely organic in his methodology.

Offered by Roger.