The label says it’s organic… so does that automatically make it the best choice when it comes to selecting what we use in our lawns and gardens?

Diatomaceous Earth for Natural Slug Control

Diatomaceous Earth for Natural Slug Control

Surveys show that Americans want to live a more environmentally responsible lifestyle, but words and actions show we aren’t always “walking the talk.” As many strive to be better stewards of the earth, reaching for the organic option seems to be the most eco-friendly thing we can do. So what’s the problem?

There are several disconnects. Organic choices typically cost more, sometimes a lot more. Secondly, change is not always easy, especially with inconsistent messaging and confusion over what’s considered reliable information. Homebrew pest solutions abound, some of which practically amount to folklore and don’t work, and are frustrating to the gardener trying to move over to organic solutions.

Even when trying to “go organic,” are we? “Natural” products may come to us after being harvested in habitat-destroying or non-sustainable methods. And natural doesn’t automatically mean safe. Natural pesticides, insecticides and poisons  are still poisonous – at the very least they may kill indiscriminately, doing just as much damage as their synthetic counterparts in the home garden. At worst, we may become complacent about our poisons and accidentally expose our children and pets, thinking that it’s ok because it’s natural.

Dr. Jeff Gillman shares the results of his rootball comparisons

Dr. Jeff Gillman shares the results of his rootball comparisons

And then there’s a level of expectation by those venturing into the uncharted waters of organic gardening. They assume these products will work the same as their non-organic replacement. Although the legitimate products do work, they often don’t function the same way. It leads to confusion, misunderstanding and consumers left wondering what to do.

So how can buyers really make educated choices with realistic expectations over the results of how and when these earth-friendly products work? Fortunately there are some well-known and respected leaders emerging to tell the truth about organic gardening—to reveal the benefits, drawbacks and the bottom line.

Jeff Gillman, Ph.D and Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Minnesota literally wrote the book on the subject. In this episode, Joe and Jeff walk the gardening aisles at the big box store examining labels, then spend some time in the yard and garden dispelling some very common gardening advice.

For more information:

The Truth About Organic Gardening: Benefits, Drawbacks, and the Bottom Line by Jeff Gillman (book)*

Chef Nathan’s Cherry and Vanilla Bean Compote

*Links related to books and merchandise are affiliate links


Growing A Greener World is a national gardening series on Public Television that features organic gardening, green living and farm to table cooking. Each episode focuses on compelling and inspirational people making a difference through gardening. This gardening series covers everything from edible gardening and sustainable agriculture to seasonal cooking and preserving the harvest.

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  1. Jodie Visker says

    I thought it was mentioned in the video that there would be more information on specific organic fertilizers that are good to use. I’m not finding that. Maybe I was mistaken…?

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