THE MODERN MINT BLOG
What is the difference between organic bulbs (like the ones we are selling) and the bulbs you buy at the garden centre?
Organic bulbs (or ecobulbs as the package will tell you) come from The Netherlands and are grown on organic land that has been reclaimed from the sea. The bulbs are not treated with insecticides or dipped in fungicide before being netted and sent to the garden centre.
What are insecticides?
Insecticides are simply a product that is used to kill, maim or repel bugs. Different poisons are used in different ways – for example, some insecticides will attack the nervous system of a species of insect, while others may affect the exoskeleton. Some may mimic the insects hormones affecting the way they grow or rendering them unable to reproduce. You can get insecticides as a spray, a gel, a dust or bait.
What problems might using insecticides cause?
The most obvious problem with using them at all is that you don’t know who or what else they may affect. Non-targeted insects, people and pets may end up in contact with the toxins.
As ever when ‘playing chess with nature’ – when you try to disable one element from your garden (e.g. by using a neonicotinoid class of insecticide to kill the aphids on your roses) you can cause massive problems further along the line by unbalancing the eco-system (the bees who may have helped you to pollinate your flowers get a dose of poison too.)
Any blanket use of a substance whose purpose is to destroy seems daft when used in the context of a garden, where the process and cycle of life to death is so damn obvious. Balance folks, is what a garden is about – not just death.
Saving bees with organic bulbs
By buying bulbs with an organic certification you are assured of knowing the bulbs have not been treated with pesticides, which include systemic neonics which get held in the heart of the bulb and then, when the sap rises in spring and the bulb begins to flower, can give a dose of the toxin to the bees and other insects who are seeking pollen and nectar.
We were talking with a number of beekeepers recently and they were worried about this – each time a bee visits a flower that is not grown from an organic bulb, they may be getting a draught of poison. It seems so simple an idea to grow organic bulbs and prevent this from happening, that we can see why people don’t believe there is even a problem. We’ve been planting bulbs from the garden centre for years haven’t we, and no-one ever mentioned this before?
By buying bee-safe organic bulbs from us at Modern Mint, or the Organic Gardening Catalogue, you will be ensuring the highly industrialised bulb industry will have to change the way it farms its bulbs – no longer growing them crammed together, forcing them to maturity quicker, spraying them with chemicals or feeding them with synthetic fertilisers.
It may have been a problem you didn’t know you had (poisoning bees with your flowers) but look how easy the solution is. Just plant organic bulbs.
Cost – is it more for an organic bulb?
We have found that they cost about the same as some of the non-organic bulbs available from most garden centres. Not all, but some. Yet it will only be priced better when demand is higher. By supporting organic bulbs now you will be ensuring a future for this type of horticulture. Even more importantly, you will be ensuring a future for our bees and other insects.
It is then you will see the benefit of paying those few pence more right now.
To find out more about organic bulbs…
We must give a huge thank you for the encouragement and advice on attempting to tell this story about bee friendly bulbs to John Walker, the earth friendly gardener. He wrote about organic tulip bulbs, which first alerted us to this, and has also been featured on the Modern Mint blog a few times. Do read more about him…
We will update this blog as we discover more about the effects of pesticides on bees and other insects, so do subscribe to our mailing list.
Lastly, we hope you will be planting your bulbs this Autumn and that, now you know a little more, will be making sure you plant organic bulbs as a preference.
Please contact us if you wish to buy Narcissus ‘Thalia’ as an organic bulb, as stocks are already low!
As organic gardeners we thought you may be interested to know where you can buy organically grown, bee-friendly bulbs here in the UK. The list is short, sadly, but we hope that in the future EVERYONE is stocking them each Autumn. Modern Mint – Help The Honeybee Organic Catalogue have a good range – Autumn Bulbs Crocus stock a few – Organic Bulbs For further reading on why you should plant organic bulbs, see this piece in the Telegraph by Modern Mint favourite John Walker, The Earth Friendly Gardener.
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Sally Nex is a writer at The Garden magazine, the Guardian, Grow Your Own magazine as well as teaching at the online My Gardening School. We met her via Twitter and through emails a few years ago – and she is lovely. Her writing too is always interesting, worth a read. Sally gardens in Somerset, on an acre of land, where she says she battles the brambles and also looks after chickens and a flock of Dorset Down rare breed sheep. And now she has a new book coming out, based on Growing Your Own for Self Sufficiency. Published by …