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My Interview

         When I first tell people that organic gardening is my hobby, they usually ask me a few questions:
             Were you raised under high voltage power lines?
           Aren't plants boring?
           What is your favorite type of gardening?
           What's so great about gardening?
           Why should I become a gardener?
           What do you mean by "organic"?
           Why should I go organic?


  Were you raised under high voltage power lines?  

         No, I was not exposed to high levels of radiation, dropped on my head in infancy, or denied human companionship in the early years of my life. In truth, I have always been fascinated with life, especially plant life.

  Aren't plants boring?  

         I think that plants are amazing. Ever since I was a child I have been inexplicably drawn to these wonderful providers of life. As a matter of fact, plants are the greatest providers on earth. They are classified as producers because they use energy from the sun to build up their tissues. Consumers, like us humans, break down these tissues to get our energy. Plants form the base of every food chain on earth. Without them the vast majority of earth's organisms (including us) would cease to exist.
         Consider the miracle of plant growth: a tiny, insignificant seed, seemingly devoid of life, is awakened by a mere drop of water. From these humble beginnings it can grow into a 200 foot Redwood tree or a 2 inch stem of clover. Some plants, like bamboo and kelp (which grows in sea water), can grow more than one foot per day. The incredible variety of plants also intrigues me. Just look out at the world around you: there are daffodils and daisys, oaks and evergreens, weeds and wysteria, grasses and gourds, venus fly traps and vegetables. And each botanical specimen has a million different varieties (especially now that hybridization - the genetic combination of two different species - is used). The last time I looked in a seed catalogue I was astonished: there were 56 varieties of tomato.

  What is your favorite type of gardening?  

         Without question, vegetable gardening. I LOVE VEGETABLES. It's as simple as that. I can't get enough of them. I go wild for the taste of a fresh tomato. I savor every bite of crisp, delicate iceberg lettuce. And the mere sight of snow peas poking their tender shoots through the ground makes my mouth water. Vegetables are easy to grow and care for, they are prolific and produce large harvests, they are high in essential vitamins and minerals, and they blow my tastebuds away.

  What's so great about gardening?  

         Humans have been gardening for thousands of years. From the primitive man who first put a seed in the ground to the small balcony gardens of the crowded modern city, gardening has always been an integral part of our lives. It provides an enormous sense of satisfaction and self-respect ("I planted the seed. I helped to create life. And now my friends and family can share in the rewards of my efforts.") When I look at my garden my first impulse is always a smile. I look forward to my time in the garden as an opportunity to escape from the rigors of the day. As I work among the collection of life that I have assembled, I can feel my stress sifting into the soil and dispersing in the layers of leaves and stems. I feel at home when I gaze upon the neat rows that I have planted. Through gardening I can feel an intimate connection with nature and the earth. When I sift the rich soil through my hands, the soil from which my plants will draw life, I am a part of something sacred and holy. The small step into my garden transports me to a shrine for the glory of life. I can feel the awesome natural forces constantly working around me. I leave humbled, but also thrilled, by the abundance of life that I have encountered.
         Gardening is good for the soul, but there are also pleasures for the senses alone. Have you ever cut a slice from the smooth, swollen perfection of a gorgeous, red tomato that has ripened in your back yard? When the sweet red meat first touches your tongue, everything else seems to fade away. You are elevated to a heaven of exotic flavors and smells. I guarantee that your vegetables will look and taste like the fruits of the Garden of Eden. And you don't have to be an expert gardener; the bounty of your garden will stimulate your taste buds in a way that man-made products could never recreate. Everything that you take from your garden is a perfect and wonderful creation - the result of a partnership between you and Mother Nature.

  Why should I become a gardener?  

        With all the beauty, variety, and color of the botanical world, who can resist? Our lives are undeniably linked to the plants - whether we enjoy a salad with our meals, admire the picturesque view of a primeval forest on a crisp autumn day, or rejoice at a bundle of roses. I believe that we should embrace this union. When you are gardening, you are fulfilling a human tradition. For thousands of years man has partnered with nature and harvested the bounty of this relationship. If you are becoming a gardener, you are fulfilling an urge that has become natural to humans. Tired of limp, tasteless market produce; then gardening is your only answer. And don't worry about huge amounts of time and effort: gardening can be on as small, or as large of a scale as you want.

  What do you mean by "organic"?  

         Organic gardening is a type of home agriculture in which the gardener uses only natural products (leaves, grass, manure, etc.) to sustain their plants. An organic gardener resists many modern agricultural techniques and products. These include: petroleum based fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and chemicals used to discourage diseases. Everything that an organic gardener uses to promote healthy plant growth comes directly from the earth.
         Fundamentally, organic gardening is based on two concepts: 1)Organic gardening works through a partership with Nature, and 2)Organic gardening does not pollute, harm, or imbalance the environment. When these two concepts are elaborated, an organic gardening system quickly develops. To complete the first concept, the organic gardener observes natural processes (like decomposition or symbiosis) and recreates them in his or her garden. The organic gardener is constantly trying to apply natural techniques to his gardening purpose. By emulating natural processes (Concept One), the organic gardener unwittingly fulfills Concept Two - Do not harm or imbalance the environment. An organic gardener essentially recreates the processes of nature in his garden. He does not use anything artificial or unnatural because these things are, by definition, not produced in the natural world - an organic gardener only uses the materials of Nature. Therefore, the organic gardener becomes another part of the natural environment...he blends in to the surrounding ecosystem. The organic garden is simply another part of the natural world, and, therefore, does not cause any harm or imbalance.

  Why should I go organic?  

         I was raised in an age of environmental awareness. As a result of these influences I have always been aware of the environment and the efforts that we must take to keep it beautiful. In more recent years, however, I have discovered more intense motives for organic gardening techniques. First, there is a feeling of safety when you do not spray your plants with dangerous chemicals. It is comforting to know that nothing potentially harmful has gone into your plants, and that your vegetables are always safe to eat. Second, an organic vegetable gardener enjoys a feeling of environmental responsibility. This feeling is well deserved. By gardening organically, the irreparable environmental damage that occurs when chemicals come into contact with the local ecosystem is prevented. Because all the materials that an organic gardener uses are natural, there is no need to worry about contaminating the water supply, destroying beneficial organisms, or harming the plants in the garden. Rather than fighting nature, the organic gardener uses powerful natural forces to his or her benefit. As a result of this cooperative relationship, the gardener and the environment are both better off. But there is still more to be said for going organic. You will be amazed at the tremendous quality of the harvest. You have not tasted a real vegetable until you have eaten from a garden in which only 100% organic soil conditioners and garden-care products were used. The difference between a vegetable produced in an organic garden and a vegetable produced in a non-organic garden is indescribable. You have not truly grown vegetables until you have gardened organically. In short, organic gardening simply makes sense: through a partnership with nature, an organic gardener is far more efficient, productive, and environmentally safe than a non-organic gardener. So the question remains: Why not give organic gardening a try?



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