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TRUE OR FALSE : Test your organic gardening knowledge with this quiz. Some of the answers may suprise you.

November 19, 1994

1. Most insects are bad news and should be eliminated from the garden in order to preserve plant health.

2. Organic gardening can be less expensive than going the chemical route.

3. When a food package reads "certified organically grown," you can be assured that the food was grown organically.

4. Organic pesticides are all natural and therefore nontoxic and completely safe.

5. The average home gardener useing a weedkiller sprays a solution much stronger than the Malathion mixture sprayed on agricultural crops.

6. A garden full of bacteria is an unhealthy one.

7. Compost smells bad, but the results are worth it.

8. Organically grown plants and jproduce tend to have a lot of insect damage, such as chew holes in leaves.

Quiz Answers

1) False. Only 10% of insects in the garden will cause problems. The other 90% are beneficial, and a garden will actually suffer without their presence.

2) True. Organic gardening is usually very inexpensive. Yard waste can be recycled to make compost, which helps fertilize plants and cuts down on watering.

3) True. Packaging claims are now closely scrutinized, and it is against the law to state that something was organically grown if it wasn't. Make sure that the food was certified by an organization and the name is listed. On California products you'll often see printed, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).

4) False. Although organic pesticides are all natural and they decompose rapidly when exposed to air and sunlight, they are poisons. Many are toxic to beneficial insects and in varying degrees to humans and other animals.

5) True. A minuscule amount of Malathion per gallon is used in the aerial sprays for Medflies contrasted with the pesticide mixtures recommended for home gardeners.

6) False. A healthy garden has a soil rich in bacteria. Bacteria help accomplish a number of critical tasks, including digesting and converting various raw materials, such as organic fertilizer, into a form that plants can then absorb through their roots. Good bacteria also help to keep bad bacteria and harmful nematodes in check.

7) False. Compost that is tended properly and provided with good air circulation doesn't smell bad at all. Finished compost even has a sweet, earthy smell.

8) False. A healthy organic garden has vigorous, green plants that produce appetizing, attractive fruits and vegetables.

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