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As a gardener, you probably first heard the word "organic" as it applied to gardening, when you first came across the magazine Organic Gardening. The magazine has been around for several generations, and was one of the first voices of the organic gardening movement. But organic gardening didn't start with the magazine. It began as a reaction to the slow but steady use of synthetic nitrogen as a fertilizer for crops.

The organic gardening movement developed a following in the 1960's and 1970's as alternative lifestyles became popular. The back-to-the-land movement supported communes, nature, and organic growing practices. As agri-business took over family farms, the whole nature of growing crops for massive agricultural production changed, and the choice to grow crops without synthetics became a real issue to consumers.

Organic farming promotes soil and water conservation and reduces pollution by using companion planting, beneficial insects, compost and animal manure, and rock dust to increase plant viability, and encourages and builds naturally healthy environments for plant growth. This is done without the use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides, or herbicides.

Organic farming uses nature as the backdrop to create sustainable growing environments.

Organic produce is usually more expensive in stores because it takes longer to grow crops by alternative methods, and because "organics" are usually grown by small farms that expend more energy in growing and promoting their crops seasonally. The major question is whether it is worth the extra cost? Some people maintain that "organics" are more nutritious. Are they more nutritious because they are grown without synthetics? That hasn't been proved. What has been stated is that they are tastier. Compare any commercially-grown tomato with an organic tomato, and the taste-test will confirm that most organic tomatoes taste better than commercial tomatoes. Is that true for all organic vegetables? Most gardeners who grow vegetables organically in their backyards will always say that their vegetables taste better than store-bought. Are they just proud of their gardening skills, or are they telling the truth? Home-grown vegetables are usually fresher than store-bought, because they are harvested just minutes before being consumed. Ever eaten an ear of corn harvested in the garden? It is sweeter than any corn bought, because the sugar hasn't been converted to a starch.

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