Recently, I came across a thought-provoking piece in the latest “Organic Gardening” magazine. The article explores the ornamental plant growing industry and the chemicals used to produce those perfect little plants we see in flats at nurseries.
It seems that only a very few growers – and they are smaller ones – offer organic plants. For the large companies, apparently, the switch to organic would be prohibitive financially, at least for now. The recession and the ailing housing market have seriously affected the growers, who continue to rely heavily on synthetic fertilizers, growth inhibitors and insecticides. They say that organic fertilizers are more expensive, and hand weeding is not an option. So, until the economy improves, it’ll be business as usual.
And what about gardeners? What do we expect when we look at flats of ornamentals? Don’t we reflexively choose the most perfect-looking plants and discard flats containing plants with spotted leaves or other “defects?” I know I do, and while I adhere to organic practices in my vegetable garden, I don’t deliberately seek out organically-grown ornamentals. To be embarrassingly honest, it never occurred to me.
Maybe it’s time we asked for organic plants. I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable with the idea of indirectly supporting chemical run-off into our soil and water. That is exactly what we are doing, unless we press for change.