Myth: You must garden organically
 
This is a pretty harmless myth, though it could make those people unable to avoid chemical short cuts assume that their garden is therefore hopeless for wildlife, when in fact it is probably perfectly ok.  Organic gardening principles are entirely appropriate for wildlife gardeners, because as well as maintaining soil health and using resources responsibly, it encourages you to observe and think about your garden, and to support biodiversity.   There is a clear organic tenet not to use harmful artificial chemicals to kill weeds and pests. From the point of view of the “pests” any way of killing them such as squishing or using organic pyrethrum or fatty acid sprays is equally undesirable. To work, any chemical or treatment must be harmful to the bug or weed under attack.
 
 
Some harmful chemicals are permitted in organic gardening (although you are encouraged only to use them occasionally if you feel you must).  Others, such as glyphosate are regarded as anathema under all circumstances.  Copper, a very toxic fungicide was once accepted in organic gardening but can now only be used on organic farms with special permission.  Some permitted organic remedies, such as copper bands and dry material such as grit, eggshells or wool to deter slugs, really don’t work very well in the medium to long term. Other approaches, such as knocking aphids off broad beans with a water jet are effective (if repeated daily) and quite fun.
 
Generally, we have a lot to learn from organic practices, especially the suggestion of being a bit easy going and accepting a few weeds and holes in the leaves of your veg.  What isn’t clear is the impact of very occasionally using an organically forbidden chemical such as glyphosate, according to the instructions, in circumstances where hand weeding is impossible, Typical examples include ground elder established among the roots of shrubs or deep-rooted bindweed which you can train up a stick and then treat safely inside a plastic bag.
 
The truth is there have not yet been any rigorous controlled experiments looking into the actual biodiversity impact of such small-scale use.  The same is true about judicious use of insecticidal sprays to defend choice plants threatened with pest invasions.  This is probably the number one research question for wildlife gardening – and it would need a very large and long-term experimental study to resolve. Organic growers invoke the precautionary principle to say that if we don’t know we should assume the worst. Wildlife gardeners can weigh up the pros and cons and decide for themselves when such chemicals are considered on a small and infrequent basis.  Using a prohibited chemical may stop you calling yourself an organic gardener, but it definitely doesn’t stop you being a wildlife gardener.
 
Jennifer Owen deliberately managed her exceptionally well-studied garden conventionally, although by choice she was tolerant of moderate weed growth and didn’t use pesticides beyond slug pellets.  While not an organic garden as such, her management was a model for wildlife gardeners everywhere, and she recorded very large numbers of plants and animals . The high biodiversity found in “ordinary” gardens by the Sheffield BUGS study suggests that typical non-organically managed gardens are excellent for wildlife.
 
Conclusion:
 
It’s great to garden fully organically if you wish, but you will probably have just as much wildlife even if you do use chemicals occasionally.
 
 
Page written by Steve Head: reviewed by Ken Thompson
 
 
 
Organic gardening is particularly popular with growers of vegetables, like this splendid display.
Myth: You must garden organically
 
This is a pretty harmless myth, though it could make those people unable to avoid chemical short cuts assume that their garden is therefore hopeless for wildlife, when in fact it is probably perfectly ok.  Organic gardening principles are entirely appropriate for wildlife gardeners, because as well as maintaining soil health and using resources responsibly, it encourages you to observe and think about your garden, and to support biodiversity.   There is a clear organic tenet not to use harmful artificial chemicals to kill weeds and pests. From the point of view of the “pests” any way of killing them such as squishing or using organic pyrethrum or fatty acid sprays is equally undesirable. To work, any chemical or treatment must be harmful to the bug or weed under attack.
 
 
Organic gardening is particularly popular with growers of vegetables, like this splendid display.
Some harmful chemicals are permitted in organic gardening (although you are encouraged only to use them occasionally if you feel you must).  Others, such as glyphosate are regarded as anathema under all circumstances.  Copper, a very toxic fungicide was once accepted in organic gardening but can now only be used on organic farms with special permission.  Some permitted organic remedies, such as copper bands and dry material such as grit, eggshells or wool to deter slugs, really don’t work very well in the medium to long term. Other approaches, such as knocking aphids off broad beans with a water jet are effective (if repeated daily) and quite fun.
 
Generally, we have a lot to learn from organic practices, especially the suggestion of being a bit easy going and accepting a few weeds and holes in the leaves of your veg.  What isn’t clear is the impact of very occasionally using an organically forbidden chemical such as glyphosate, according to the instructions, in circumstances where hand weeding is impossible, Typical examples include ground elder established among the roots of shrubs or deep-rooted bindweed which you can train up a stick and then treat safely inside a plastic bag.
 
The truth is there have not yet been any rigorous controlled experiments looking into the actual biodiversity impact of such small-scale use.  The same is true about judicious use of insecticidal sprays to defend choice plants threatened with pest invasions.  This is probably the number one research question for wildlife gardening – and it would need a very large and long-term experimental study to resolve. Organic growers invoke the precautionary principle to say that if we don’t know we should assume the worst. Wildlife gardeners can weigh up the pros and cons and decide for themselves when such chemicals are considered on a small and infrequent basis.  Using a prohibited chemical may stop you calling yourself an organic gardener, but it definitely doesn’t stop you being a wildlife gardener.
 
Jennifer Owen deliberately managed her exceptionally well-studied garden conventionally, although by choice she was tolerant of moderate weed growth and didn’t use pesticides beyond slug pellets.  While not an organic garden as such, her management was a model for wildlife gardeners everywhere, and she recorded very large numbers of plants and animals . The high biodiversity found in “ordinary” gardens by the Sheffield BUGS study suggests that typical non-organically managed gardens are excellent for wildlife.
 
Conclusion:
 
It’s great to garden fully organically if you wish, but you will probably have just as much wildlife even if you do use chemicals occasionally.
 
 
Page written by Steve Head: reviewed by Ken Thompson
 
 
 
Some harmful chemicals are permitted in organic gardening (although you are encouraged only to use them occasionally if you feel you must).  Others, such as glyphosate are regarded as anathema under all circumstances.  Copper, a very toxic fungicide was once accepted in organic gardening but can now only be used on organic farms with special permission.  Some permitted organic remedies, such as copper bands and dry material such as grit, eggshells or wool to deter slugs, really don’t work very well in the medium to long term. Other approaches, such as knocking aphids off broad beans with a water jet are effective (if repeated daily) and quite fun.
 
Generally, we have a lot to learn from organic practices, especially the suggestion of being a bit easy going and accepting a few weeds and holes in the leaves of your veg.  What isn’t clear is the impact of very occasionally using an organically forbidden chemical such as glyphosate, according to the instructions, in circumstances where hand weeding is impossible, Typical examples include ground elder established among the roots of shrubs or deep-rooted bindweed which you can train up a stick and then treat safely inside a plastic bag.
 
The truth is there have not yet been any rigorous controlled experiments looking into the actual biodiversity impact of such small-scale use.  The same is true about judicious use of insecticidal sprays to defend choice plants threatened with pest invasions.  This is probably the number one research question for wildlife gardening – and it would need a very large and long-term experimental study to resolve. Organic growers invoke the precautionary principle to say that if we don’t know we should assume the worst. Wildlife gardeners can weigh up the pros and cons and decide for themselves when such chemicals are considered on a small and infrequent basis.  Using a prohibited chemical may stop you calling yourself an organic gardener, but it definitely doesn’t stop you being a wildlife gardener.
 
Jennifer Owen deliberately managed her exceptionally well-studied garden conventionally, although by choice she was tolerant of moderate weed growth and didn’t use pesticides beyond slug pellets.  While not an organic garden as such, her management was a model for wildlife gardeners everywhere, and she recorded very large numbers of plants and animals . The high biodiversity found in “ordinary” gardens by the Sheffield BUGS study suggests that typical non-organically managed gardens are excellent for wildlife.
 
Conclusion:
 
It’s great to garden fully organically if you wish, but you will probably have just as much wildlife even if you do use chemicals occasionally.
 
 
Page written by Steve Head: reviewed by Ken Thompson