Q & A with Jeff Gillman

Yesterday I reviewed the book “The Truth about Organic Gardening” by Jeff Gillman. I had the good luck of being able to do a Q & A with Dr. Gillman. Below the results…
Jeff Gillman

  1. Just we get it out of the way, are
    • you single?
    • looking for someone?
    • can I forward any emails from interested parties to you?
  2. I am married, but there is nothing sexier than a man who likes to garden and I have to ask for the sake of the single women in the audience. 😉

    It’s nice to know that gardening is considered sexy! But, if you saw what my garden looks like, you might be a little disappointed. I garden a little at home, mostly veggies, but do most of my gardening at work where I maintain a nine acre research nursery. I’m happily married with two young children. Forwarded messages from people interested in anything beyond gardening wouldn’t be a particularly good idea…

  3. How do you feel about big business jumping on the organic bandwagon? With all the new organic lines and products, do you feel this is a good trend or one that will cause problems?
  4. To be perfectly honest I’m not that crazy about big business jumping on the organic bandwagen. I like the small producers who I can ask what they’ve done with their crops and get a good honest answer. What happens to organic produce from the big producers before it reaches the table is much less clear.

    As I frequently point out, organic doesn’t mean pesticide free and often organic poisons are as bad as synthetics. Do the big producers regularly use these poisons? Well, sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. It’s impossible to know without asking.

    I should also point out that while I see many benefits to organic production I am by no means a purist and do not believe that currently organic production is necessarily better than more conventional production (depending on the specific crop, the specific producer and a whole lot of other stuff).

  5. The food industry has seen a movement where organic is now “organic” or “local”. Do you think this kind of trend will develop in gardening world? Will we soon be having gardening products and methods that are labeled “Organic” and “Organic Local” (where the method uses items found in the natural local environment)? If yes, is that a good thing? If no, why?
  6. I think it would be nice if gardening supplies and methods became more local. I think it would entice gardeners to plant more greenery that is native to their area thereby preserving many species that might otherwise be threatened. Is this really a developing trend? Here in the Midwest I really haven’t seen it yet.

  7. Should the home gardener treat organic and chemical methods differently than a nursery operation or a farming operation? In other words, should the scale of an operation be taken into account when deciding what methods and products to use?
  8. YES! The home gardener can afford to lose more of their crops than the farmer can and should act accordingly and be very conservative in adding any pesticide be it organic or synthetic. Additionally, there are many cultural methods of controlling pests that work really well on a small scale (such as putting bags around fruit to protect them from insects) but aren’t practical on a large scale for economic and / or logistical reasons.

    It is my opinion that most (>90%) home gardeners should be using pesticides very rarely (once a year or less). This is a rule that I try to follow around my house.

  9. What chemicals (if any) do you use in your personal garden and yard?
  10. I use 2,4 D once every 2 years or so, just enough to keep the dandelions from completely overtaking the yard and I use Round-up once every few years when I get an overgrown spot where I can’t pull out weeds by hand. I practically never use fungicides or insecticides with the exception of wasp spray once every few years (we had a nasty yellow jacket nest last year that was attacking the kids).

  11. What is your favorite plant and why?
  12. My favorite shrub is butterflybush. I worked with this plant when I was a graduate student with Mike Dirr at the University of Georgia. The butterflybush that you’re familiar with, Buddleia davidii, is a non-native that often gets kind of large and leggy. But it sure does attract adult butterflies. If you want a native (and I do endorse planting native if you can) there is a butterflybush native to the west Texas area called Buddleia marrubiifolia which is just fantastic. Great fragrance. Pretty plant. If you live in the South give it a shot! It’s tricky to grow, but it’s worth it.

4 thoughts on “Q & A with Jeff Gillman
  1. I once worked for a man, a grasshole, who told me to utilize my resources. Dr. Gillman, while being a resource himself, points this out while stressing smaller companies. It is great when one can get a human voice to talk you through an issue. I may just add this book to my shelf. As a footnote, my town has a compost program. While I do contribute, I don’t use it as I can not be sure of the chemicals, mostly lawn clippings, people use. I buy peat humus to use, as well as Plantone fertilizer. I don’t like to chemicals, even on my flowers. Source knowledge means power and control over one,s own.


  2. John on

    Interesting review ! Yes anything can be overdone, and done wrong, even organic chemicals. One of the best bug controls is a key part of an illeglal garden. Don’t control at least one good size patch of weeds (mostly native plants). A nice big wild place – a weed patch about 4 feet square – where spiders and other predator insects, and birds can feed & hide. Then they just move out to the garden and feed, keeping the bugs from getting too out of control.

    But then it is not really a weed patch, it is a micro nature preserve, complete with wildlife. Please fill out the official permits for keeping wild things in the city!


  3. Big Ag is doing it’s darndest to scuttle the local food movement; it’s even in the Farm Bill. The answer is so obvious- cut the big guy out altogether and grow (at least some) of your own freaking vegetables. Backyard gardens yes, Big Ag no. And join a CSA for the stuff you can’t grow.


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