Why Organic?- Ask the Frogs

BRIEF HISTORY
Since the early seventies, when Terry was a film editor working on ABC-TV programs like "This Day Tonight and Four Corners", stories about chemical pollution were often reported, and our awareness of the damage being done to the Earth by the use of poisonous chemicals grew. The book "Silent Spring" was also an early inspiration.

When we (the authors of this web space, Danuta and Terry Morrissey) first started caring for our orchid collection back in the early eighties, we were surprised at just how many chemicals and artificial fertilizers were deemed necessary as part of general Orchid Culture to produce healthy vibrant flowering plants. Initially, we also used these toxic chemicals, following the methods laid down by the more experienced traditional growers before us.

It didn't take us long to realise that our hobby had the potential to actually kill us!
Unfortunately, there was not much interest shown by other growers at that time - too unwilling to get off the chemical treadmill!

Concerned about our own health and the health of our plants and fuelled by our passion for clean organic culture we decided to research what was available at the time! Very little, it seemed, apart from animal manure & pellets, and these commercial forms often contained heavy doses of superphosphate! Thus started a long and involved quest for the perfect all-purpose organic fertilizer.

By 1987, we were introduced to some new forms of plant nutrient and took an active interest in learning about how to convert to more natural forms of orchid and vegetable culture. During this time we traveled and spread the organic principles to as many people who were willing to listen and re-educate themselves to approach things more sustainably.
Since then, our personal research has led us to develop our own unique fertilizer after many years of practical trials.

So with the birth of our web-site, it is appropriate that we fill some of it with the Orchid Images' version of why you should bother going organic!

THE TRANSITION
To get from chemical to organic practices takes a bit of courage and vigilance.
Courage to not use a toxic chemical to control a biological problem. Vigilance to observe more closely the plants in your care on a more regular basis than you might otherwise do, so that you can treat them in a more natural way. And finally some of you may also have to learn skills that are absolutely useless in your normal workplace, and that should be a benefit for you!

Growing plants with the help of nature is better than trying to dominate it.

In time the organic grower will learn to trust in the balance of nature.

Just ask the frogs that live here!

CONSERVATION AIMS
Orchid Images has grown into a unique place where plant lovers can enjoy a wide variety of Orchids, Hoyas, Bromeliads, and some rare and unusual plants, which are grown and propagated in the nursery using safe & clean cultural methods.
The Nursery's Visitors & Workers alike can feel safe when they handle plants as there are no toxic residues.

The evening symphony of frogs is a testament to clean run-off and a treasure to listen to.

OUR CONSERVATION AIMS

  • CLEAN WATERWAYS
  • CONSERVATION OF NATURAL FROG SPECIES.
  • ECO-BIODIVERSITY OF INSECT LIFE….NATURAL PREDATORS.
  • NON-TOXIC CULTURE PROMOTES HEALTH OF PLANTS AS WELL AS PEOPLE WHO VISIT NURSERY AND WANT TO GROW THEIR PLANTS IN NATURAL WAYS.

DEFINITION OF TERMS
Before we go further, it is important that we define some terms that we use to describe what we do.

ORGANIC
Natural substances, with either single or combinations of elements made entirely from natural processes. May be simple or very complex chemical compounds.

TOXIC CHEMICAL
A single element, or combination, natural or man-made, which causes death or damage to any form of life. It may be toxic itself, or may become toxic after time, or become toxic after being combined with other elements, instantly, or after the passing of time.

ACCEPTABLE LEVEL OF TOXIC POLLUTANTS
In pure organic culture, there is no acceptable level of pollution. This phrase refers to 'official' acceptance of varying degrees of pollutants allowed in agricultural production. It may be just several parts of toxin per million parts of product. It is our belief that Zero parts per million should be the Standard set by regulating Government agencies. ZERO TOLERANCE is very appropriate here.

LOW STRENGTH INSECTICIDE
In the best of worlds, this would mean that the poison's strength is so low as to kill the pest but not the predator. It would also have to degrade quickly after application to avoid accumulation of toxins, or death to other, smaller, predators. These need very careful application.

ARTIFICIAL CHEMICAL
We refer to 'chemical' as that being man-made. To be clear, though, Nature makes biological chemicals, including those made in volcanoes and bio-systems. Plants and animals make chemicals. Humanity makes chemicals too, sometimes mimicking Nature, sometimes by artificial processes that are foreign to Nature, and therefore artificial .
N P K
Traditionally refers to Mineral Salts. A quaint old term which is supposed to tell consumers the amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium a product contains, and by implication, how good it is !
We have always been amazed at conventional agriculture's disregard for the other 106 elements that nature uses to grow plants ! Our plant culture tries to ensure that as many elements as possible are available to our plants - in a natural form that the plant can utilise.

THE TRANSITION
To get from chemical to organic practices takes a bit of courage and vigilance. Courage to not use a toxic chemical to control a biological problem. Vigilance to observe more closely the plants in your care on a more regular basis than you might otherwise do, so that you can treat them in a more natural way. And finally some of you may also have to learn skills that are absolutely useless in your normal workplace, which should also benefit you in another way !

THE BENEFITS

  • Safer for you and for the environment.
  • Healthier plants. The internal pollution of the plants' cells with residual poison is eliminated.
  • Larger and more colourful flowers and fruit that are also more able to resist insect and fungal attack. No doubt, you've heard these claims before. The weird thing is that they are true. After so many years, we know that we are on the right path because we have seen the system working.
  • Economic advantages are lower production costs, with big savings on fertilizer and chemical products.

  • No Salt build-up in pots - means that bark/potting mixes stay fresh and aerobic, providing clean environment for micro-organisms to flourish, resulting in clean healthy root systems and longer pot life of plants. We have seen potting mixes still in good condition after 7 years. (Artifical chemical salt build up can kill roots and clog mixes & cause anaerobic conditions, resulting in sour mixes & decaying of root matter, unhealthy conditions that attract pests and diseases, causing death of many orchids, leaving growers loathe to keep growing them ).
  • As there are no toxins in the water run off, our dams hold clean drinkable water and large populations of frogs and other wildlife.
  • The gene pools of our exotic species are in as ┬╣pure a form as they would be in their native habitats.

For the purists in the botanical world, this benefit alone should be of importance. Often these purists actively collect wild plants, only to cultivate them with every chemical known to horticulture in order to produce sickly and weak specimens of what were once robust wild specimens. Historically, the next step for them is to pollinate these same sickly specimens and thus produce inferior stock to sell to naïve orchid enthusiasts around the world who often wonder why the plants fail to thrive. Of course, this is a broad statement, and there are some exceptions, but it gives you a picture doesn't it!

COSTS
There is no cost to convert to organic culture other than replacing some artificial chemicals for some natural ones, which are probably cheaper anyway. It is certain that orchid mixes will last many times longer under natural methods than with the artificial chemicals. Time spent on plants may be a cost for a commercial operation, but a pleasure for the grower.
Natural insect control methods are long established in our Nursery. It is necessary that an insect population exist! Insect pests such as aphids, mealy bugs, scale etc., are kept in check by other insects that need them to survive. Larger pests are naturally eaten by larger predators; namely lizards, frogs, and even small birds visit. (Yes, we see them flying into the Growing Houses without fear and it's a wonderful sight!).

Of course there is a wider view. That all Life on Earth has a spiritual essence that Science should not regard as unimportant. Humanity must accept that we are not the only life form on the planet, and respect the plants in our care.

Growing plants with the help of nature is better than trying to dominate it.
In time the organic grower learns to trust in the balance of nature.
Just ask the frogs that live here! They will be happy to tell you !

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