Mention the words “organic gardening,” and Augusta State University biology professor Donna Wear gets excited.
For Wear, organic gardening isn’t just a passion; it’s become a way of life.
“I have been involved in organic vegetable gardening for only the past two years on a small scale,” Wear said. “I have had an organic herb garden for about five years.”
Wear and her husband, who live in Appling, have been purchasing produce from Augusta Locally Grown for the past four years. Vegetables and fruits grown without any artificial fertilizers or chemical pesticides just taste better, she said.
“You can truly taste the difference,” she said. “There is much scientific information to suggest that some chemical pesticides are not good for you.”
For example, she says that many people use glyphosate, known as Roundup, for weed control. Tests have shown that “even very small amounts of this chemical in aquatic environments can cause feminization in amphibians,” she said.
Tests have also been done on other chemicals used in the garden with similar results.
“Many of the products that people purchase in grocery stores are produced on a very large scale,” Wear said. “For large commercial farms, they almost always use chemicals to ensure that they produce a good crop.”
Wear has an organic vegetable garden and an organic herb garden. She has recently undertaken a project to use rotten wood in raised beds, an ancient technique known as Hugelkultur.
These raised beds are loaded with organic material and nutrients. Over time, the soil becomes rich. As the wood shrinks, tiny air pockets form, which allows for a sort of self-tilling.
This process prevents the need for fertilization and irrigation, because the soil holds in water.
“This is the most exciting project I have undertaken in a long while,” she said.