Q: Where can I go to find products approved for organic use?
A: The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI: www.omri.org), and the Washington State Dept. Of Agriculture (WSDA: www.agr.wa.gov/) are two agencies recognized as placing a "Stamp of Approval" on those items approved for Organic Use and is a good starting point.
FYI: Keep in mind that products are not required to be OMRI or WSDA listed to be approved for organic use. Being listed as "Organic Approved" by these agencies takes the guess work out of your decision making process. Folks whom are "certified organic" should always check with their CERTIFYING AGENCY for the final decision regarding the approval for any product considered for use in organic production.
Q: Some vendors at the farmers market say "they're as organic as you can get." Is that the same as being 'Certified Organic?'
A: NO. In the organic world there is no such thing as being 'almost' or 'as much as you can get'. Its more of a Yes or No Statement: Yes, you are organic; or No, you are not organic. In fact if any vendor claims to be organic in any sense of the word, ASK to see the vendors Organic Certificate since they are required to produce the certificate upon request. If a certificate is not handy, then their organic Identification Number and Certifying Agency should be available, or at the least, information on how to obtain their organic credentials. There are many good conventional and organic gardeners and farmers out there who are honest and take pride in what they do, but BEWARE of the scammers! Look for the USDA Organic Seal this is your assuance that the products and facility has been USDA inspected for Organic standards. There are products labeled as "organic" that are not organic!
FYI: Doing the best you can to be organic is great for the home gardener, since they are not selling products to consumers or market goers. To be certified organic, an annual inspection is required in addition to an audit trail for all seeds, feeds, inputs and facilities management. In fact in Michigan just to use the word "Organic" the operation MUST BE CERTIFIED, and the National Organic Program waiver Does Not Apply that allows non-certified operations grossing $5000 or less to use the term organic. Don't be shy, ASK to see the vendors Organic Certificate! If you make an Organic Certificate inquiry and there is the slightest doubt, chances are pretty good the vendor IS NOT Organic and although they may be as organic as they can be, the probability exists that a pesticide or some other input has contaminated their product.
Q: If I rototill my garden will I kill all of the worms?
A: Probably not.
F.Y.I.: Although the soil usually must be worked up to some degree to prepare the seed bed, "No Till" is best since the soil structure and "micro-herd" (earth worms, microbes, and other beneficial critters living in the soil that turn organic matter into rich soil) are not disrupted or destroyed. Rototilling generally penetrates approximately the top 3-8 inches of top soil and unfortunately this is the same area inhabited by most of the "micro-herd". Fortunately for us, Mother Earth has provided us with a micro herd that under favorable conditions is pretty resilient. For example depending upon the variety of earth worm, their eggs will contain from 1-3 worms per egg and hatch about every 21 days, the eggs do not need the mother worm for incubation or nursing the young. Think of the soil structure and micro-herd as a community (just like the one where you might live), if your living environment is satisfactory and secure, then you're happy and productive. However if the community becomes terribly disrupted (or destroyed) then a rebuilding or relocating process occurs (Earth worms will indeed leave an area under bad circumstances). What is worst than using mechanical tillage or cultivation methods, is applying any type of synthetic herbicide that not only kills the target vegetation but also ends up destroying the micro-herd (and its food chain), leaving behind a dead sterile soil (Which most synthetic herbicides do!)
Here's the biggest joke of all: Planting a cover crop/green manure to improve soil fertility and microbial growth, only to follow up with a pesticide like glyphosate or a related product. i.e. Good bye micro-heard!
Q:Why use Organic Seed? A: Organic seed that falls within the National Organic Program rules is uncontaminated seed, and it all starts with clean safe seed before the food reaches the plate.
If you start with uncontaminated seed, then you can grow uncontaminated plants. If you use seed that is contaminated in any way, then you have No choice but to produce contaminated plants since the plant was doomed to begin with. FYI: In almost All accounts, contamination is caused by human intervention. Once the plant is infected, the poison is passed on from parent to offspring (seed) by heredity or cross pollination. Q: When I plant my Organic seedling is it still Organic? A: Yes. However just how much it remains organic is entirely up to you, and depends upon such factors as soil preparation and condition, soil inputs, pest control, etc. The bottom line: You're either Organic or Not. This might
seem harsh buts its kinda like being "pregnant" its either
yes or no, you're never "how much pregnant".
The type of soil condition you provide determines what your plant becomes after planting and as it grows. It takes work and dicipline to manitain a 100%
Organic garden and the important thing is to strive for perfection
every season. (If it was easy everyone would do it, and since you want
perfection that's what separates you from the rest!)
To get started, a very basic way to think about it
would be that a 10% Organic soil condition/applicatipon means that
your plants & veggies are at best 10% Organic
(The rest is 90% pesticides/synthetic fetilizers, GMOs and
other contamnation). Whereas,100% Organic soil condition
means your plants & veggies are 100% Organic,
and so on. Remember, its not a question of "how" organic, your plant's growing environment is, it either "Is" or "Isn't". FYI: You are in control from start to finish. If you start with contaminated soil, then your plants & veggies will eventually become contaminated and you will soon eat contaminated food, whether you grow it or someone else grows it for you-This also applies to container grown plants as well. If you prepare your potting mix or feed your soil with uncontaminated compost, mulch, grass clippings, leaves, etc. before planting, then you are on your way to a sustainable organic environment. DON'T
GIVE UP! If your plant store doesn't have the product you want
look elsewhere, Don't Settle for growing poison, If You Want To
Grow Safe Healthy Food, You must WORK FOR IT and you will
not regret it! Q:I want to turn my garden into an organic garden, how long does it take? A: It all depends upon what you have been doing to prepare your garden soil, feeding your plants and managing weeds, insect and disease issues from past seasons. In other words, just how contaminated is your soil? (For some soil conditions, it takes Mother Earth longer to repair) Organic gardening and farming are more about feeding the soil to maintain an uncontaminated sustainable environment where the plants (and most everything else) will thrive. Keep in mind there are no quick fixes here since creating a sustainable Organic environment is a slow acting process, but rest assure it is well worth the effort. FYI: There is a cleansing period for your soil. The USDA National Organic Program rules state that organic practice must be maintained for a minimum of 3 years. Some Organic producers indicate that the most noticed improvements are realized after 5 years. Sound like a long time? Remember, each season that you practice organics will produce veggies from your garden that are cleaner from toxins as each year goes by, it will only get better! Q: Are Sustainability and Organic the same thing? A: No. In short, "Sustainability" means to "put back" what we've taken out of the system, to continue or begin a new cycle. Whereas "Organic" means to be clean of any prohibited interventions or treatments harmful to the environment as we know it. FYI: Conventional Gardeners and Farmers alike have been practicing "non-organic" sustainability for a long time. However crops contaminated with synthetic pesticides and other toxins are being recycled as compost and poisoning the environment with catastrophic effects, some of which are irreversible. To maintain a sound human environment, in nature as in the garden, to be sustainable you must have organic-Period! Sustainability is not that difficult, but how much "Organic" you are willing to commit to is another story, since more attention must be given to the type of treatments (and their ingredients) that are applied to the soil or plant. To maintain a "healthy" ecosystem, a sustainable organic lifestyle is a must! However, we must also keep in mind there are some extremely powerful "Organic" materials in nature as well, some of which can even harm humans. For example: It wouldn't be wise to eat "organic" poison ivy. Q:Doesn't Organic mean higher price? A: Not Always. Sometimes a market may run a special sale where organic produce is the same or less costly than conventionally farmed produce. Generally, Organic produce will cost an average of 30%-50% higher (sometimes more) than conventionally produced food, since Organic gardening/farming is more labor intensive. Unfortunately, there is also the reality of those folks who abuse the Organic label just to hike up prices. But then again, there are folks who also claim that their inexpensive (non organic) "all natural products" contain 100% natural ingredients, when in reality the product may only contain 1% of a 100% natural product, with the remaining ingredients being 99% unhealthy by products and preservatives. Unfortunately
due to marketing scams, the term "All Natural" doesn't have the same
credibility as it once did.
FYI: In addition to the usual Organic gardening/farming treatments, for a farmer or gardener to be "Certified Organic", there is an annual USDA Inspection with a required fee. Furthermore, there is an ongoing and time consuming audit trail and record keeping requirement. Any activities performed that vary from standard operating procedures generally require confirmation of being within the Nation Organic Program guidelines by submitting an affidavit of authentication. And of course, there is a fee required for the Organic certifying agency and additional fees for soil or water testing that may also be required. When considering the medical costs for human disorders i.e. autism, ADHT disorder, diabetes, seizures and even death caused by pesticides, the cost for Organic produce becomes negligible. In fact, the research evidence continues to mount and conclude that there is a definite link between pesticide use and human health disorders. Krow Acres is certified 100% USDA Organic, and our goal is to provide you with the Cleanest, Safest Products for Your Good Health, Period! Q:Are there Organic hybrids? A: Yes. Two Organic plants are cross bred with one another to produce a veggie or fruit with a certain desired characteristic. The seed saved from Organic hybrids just as those from conventionally produced hybrids will not produce a veggie or fruit that is true to its original form. Also, Don't be fooled, a genetically engineered plant, or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) also called Genetic Engineering, IS NOT the same thing as a Hybrid! Q:Organic, genetically modified, and conventionally grown veggies look the same, but are they really that much different? A: Yes. This is one of the real BIG problems, you can't tell the difference by sight alone. FYI: Modern day humans are attracted to food first by sight i.e. If it looks good, then it must be good. However, if you had two great looking chocolate sundaes in front of you that looked the same and you knew that one of them was poisoned, would you eat it? Probably not, so why would you want to eat food that is contaminated? Remember knowledge is power, know what you are growing and eating. For more information, visit the Krow Acres website, click on Knowledge Center tab, click on the video button and check out the video The Future of Food. If you need more information, goto www.youtube.com and enter The Future of Food, GMO, etc. Q:Organic produce is too expensive and I don't make that much money, what should I do? A: Eat as much Organic as you can, when you can. FYI: The less toxins that you put into your body the better. If you can?t remove all of the toxins from your body, at least lower their level! And at the very least, eat all of the junk food that you want, but feed your children organic food. Q:With the growing world population becoming a concern, can Organic agriculture meets the world's food demand? A: Yes. In fact, repeated research studies have indicated that Organic crop yields in most cases surpass genetically modified or conventional crop yields. Q:Does Organic produce taste better then conventionally grown produce? A: It all depends. There is current literature that says, Yes. FYI: There is research that suggests that pesticides inhibit a plant's nutrient consumption and suppresses a veggie's full flavor. Furthermore, the preservatives used with most conventional produce may suppress a human's tasting ability. Keep in mind, Organic produce does not use preservatives, sometimes it is harvested slightly early and allowed to finish ripening while in the store to provide a longer shelf life. If you've purchased early harvested Organic produce and eat it right away, it might taste rather bland since it was not matured and may have lacked adequate sugar or nutrient content, and thus not taste as good because it is under ripe. You have 3 options for better tasting fresh Organic produce: 1) Join an Organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) This is where an Organic farm grows produce for you and it is delivered to a "pick-up" place, weekly as the produce comes into season; 2) Ask your store clerk or farmers market person for the arrival day of the Organic produce. Arrive promptly on that day, and upon selecting the best looking produce you will be able to better monitor at home when the produce is fully ripened; 3) Grow your own produce. 4) Visit a local Farmers Market. Most producers harvest their produce 24-48 hrs. before market ensuring you get their best product. Keep in mind, store owners have a difficult time keeping fresh Organic produce in stock since it must be sold quickly due to its shorter shelf life, so in turn the store might only keep a limited selection or supply of Organic produce on hand, since as the produce spoils the store loses money. Another option might be to talk to your store clerk about your Organic interest, since if there is a demand and better product turnover, the store may be more inclined to bring more Organic selections to the shelves. Remember, its normal for clean safe produce to spoil when harvested and stored on the shelf too long, and spoil even faster upon poor storage conditions However, produce that remains fresh for extended periods on the shelf are generally treated with some type of preservative, whether it be a wax type coating (and who knows where that came from) or chemical treatment, and in the end find their way to the dinner table as part of that good looking healthy tasty salad full of nutrients, preservatives and pesticide. Q:Is Organic food more nutritious then conventionally produced food? A: For some foods the research indicates, Yes. However, at the present time there is a continued debate about this issue and more research is needed in this area. The reality, is that more and more research supports that organic foods contain higher nutrient levels, are generally more healthy for you, and tastes better as well. Besides, what's so nutritious about eating pesticides absorbed and stored in conventionally produced veggies, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or dairy? FYI: Genetically modified and conventional food is usually produced for a certain characteristic other than nutrition. i.e. looks, being resistant to pesticides, etc. In fact, when a plant has been genetically modified to be pesticide resistant, it becomes the toxin itself! Conventional farming and gardening is generally content on the "quick fix" focusing primarily on only 3 inputs (N) nitrogen, (P) phosphorus, and (K) potassium to treat the plant more so than feed the soil, while continuously inducing additional toxins to control weeds, and insects which end up being absorbed by the plant itself and ultimately on the dinner table. Whereas, Organic practice not only includes N,P,K, without inducing toxin, but also feeds the soil to provide most, if not all, of the 90+ nutrients naturally found in the soil. Remember we are what we eat, and this applied to what is fed to the soil for the plants to eat as well.
Q: What is Compost Tea?
A: Compost Tea is produced by placing composted manure and/or vegetable matter in a fine mesh bag and seeping it in water to produce a tea, then adding a microbial food and preservative (generally molasses). Compost Tea generally has a longer shelf life due to the addition of molasses. However, using compost tea also has its risks since the manure used may not have been thoroughly composted or may contain harmful bacteria such as E-Coli. Furthermore, the molasses used in compost tea can stimulate the growth of E-Coli.