Gardening can be anything from an interesting pastime to a full-time job. Some of us do it on a small scale due to our love of all things green, while others choose to do it to put fresh veggies and fruit on the table. Others still will garden in pursuit of the aesthetic floral wonderland we have envisioned in our mind.
Regardless of your motivation, you will likely have encountered the great debate on ecological gardening vs traditional gardening. Which is better? Why do one or the other? The questions can go on and on. The best way to determine which is better for you is to highlight the differences between them and what makes each method unique.
What Is Ecological Gardening?
Ecological gardening, which is also referred to as eco-gardening, is the kind of gardening that promotes the consideration and care of the ecosystem that exists within a garden by utilizing all-natural methods of growing and cultivation. Eco-gardening focuses on maintaining a natural, ecological balance between the plants, water, and insects, all the way down to tiny microbes you cannot see with your own eyes.
Generally speaking, an eco-garden is the type of garden where the methods of fertilization, pest control, and weeding are done in a way that cuts out any potentially harmful chemicals or unnatural helpers and additives. The motivation behind ecological gardening varies from person to person, but the most popular reasons involve personal desires to cultivate organic food for health reasons, as well as the desire to have as little impact on the ecosystem as humanly possible.
What Is Traditional Gardening?
Traditional gardening, as the name suggests, is the more common way of growing a garden. This method of gardening focuses less on the ecological impact that your gardening methods might have, and more on the yield and/or aesthetics of the garden. Traditional gardening generally encourages the use of chemical pesticides, non-natural fertilizer, and chemical weed killers. Unless you pick up organic vegetables from the grocery store or farm-fresh produce from a farmer’s market, most of the vegetables you pick up at the store will come from a large-scale version of this type of gardening.
Traditional gardening is currently the more common option. The pesticides and other products can make it easier to maintain, and you will also end up with a larger harvest. Overall, though, it is up for debate with regards to which method is best. Traditional gardening is far less labor-intensive and far easier overall, but definitely has its downsides.
The Pros and Cons of Ecological Gardening
Ecological gardening has a lot to offer those brave enough to take on the extra fuss. Ecological gardening uses all-natural means of cultivation from preparing your ground, right through to harvest. This means the end product is completely chemical-free and organic. It also happens to be the cheaper option by a considerable amount. Composting is done naturally, and no chemical fertilizers need to be purchased when you compost. The same is true for pesticides too.
The downside to this is, of course, the inability to effectively control what little crawlers invade in their mission to make a meal out of what you’re growing. The more pests that are able to invade your garden, the more of your plants will be harmed. Your harvest will be smaller as a result.
Weed control is also more constrained as it needs to be done by hand without the use of any chemicals. This results in slightly lower yields at harvest if you’re growing veggies and results in the death of a few more plants and flowers. It is important to note, however, that while you may get fewer tomatoes off the same seed, the ones you do get are going to be higher in nutrition compared to the same set grown through traditional means.
Ecological gardening is also far more labor-intensive. Everything needs to be done by hand and there is much more prep work required for the soil, for composting, and even when mulching. Generally, you would create a compost pile where degradable waste like offcuts, grass cuttings, dry leaves, and vegetable peels would be piled and left to degrade into compost. This takes time, persistence, and patience. Removing weeds by hand can be a particularly time-consuming endeavor but is the only acceptable way to keep your weeds from taking over if you don’t use chemicals.
The Pros and Cons of Traditional Gardening
Traditional gardening has a lot going for it too. The amount of physical work and time one needs to put in is considerably less than with an eco-garden. The freedom to use chemicals to protect your plants and veggies from pests is a huge advantage, as is the case with weed control. In traditional gardening, composting for fertilizer is not necessary as you can just purchase chemical-based fertilizer from a store and add it to your soil without concerning yourself too much with what’s actually in it. The use of these fertilizers coupled with garden tools and the ability to better control insects and weeds results in higher yields as well as healthier plants and flowers.
These benefits do not come without a cost, however. The use of chemicals for weed and pest control tends to lessen the amount of nutrition found in the produced fruits and vegetables. In addition, many chemicals themselves are not great for our bodies and can perpetuate health conditions in some people too. The thought of chemicals in our food or on our beloved plants is never a very pleasant one.
Traditional gardening can also run up higher costs due to the purchase of the fertilizer and control chemicals one would use. The difference may seem small at first, but added up over the length of a year, there’s quite a large gap in costs.
Is One Better Than The Other?
In order to decide if one type of gardening is better than the other, you need to consider a few different things. First, what are your goals when gardening? Are you aiming to put veggies on the dinner table or grow your favorite flowers? Perhaps both? You also need to consider whether you personally prefer organic food over food that has been influenced by chemical helpers. Another major consideration is your budget. How much do you have to spend on your garden in a given season? Probably the biggest consideration of them all is how much time you actually have. If you are limited on time and thus the amount of labor you can dedicate to the garden, an ecological gardenmay be a very difficult endeavor for you.
Make a list of your preferences and constraints and compare them to the pros and cons of each method of gardening. This should help you gain a clear picture of which would be the better for your particular needs and situation.
The truth is, the better or worse option is a matter of personal opinion and perspective — something each of us is entitled to decide for ourselves. While we may not be able to tell you explicitly which method wins the debate, hopefully we have helped you answer which one is better for you personally.