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May Action of the Month: Tend Your Garden Without Pesticides


The real spring with warm, sunny days is (hopefully!) on its way. That means it’s time to plant your vegetable garden or give your balcony some TLC. But did you know—prepare for a shock—that most seeds in superstores are coated in pesticides?

Last winter, the media reported that pesticides are being used inappropriately and exposed conflicts of interest with industry. On top of that, seeds coated in bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides have been proven to be ineffective and expendable by hundreds of studies. So why buy them? Especially when there are healthy, more effective alternatives.

Rest assured, Équiterre is working with governments to reduce pesticide use. And today, we’d like to give you some pesticide-free gardening tips—for beginners and seasoned gardeners alike.

Why buy organic seeds?

Everything that grows starts with a seed—a never-ending little miracle. Certified organic seeds have plenty of advantages: they require a lot less watering, need fewer synthetic substances to grow and thrive with organic treatment.

According to National Geographic, 93% of seed varieties in the U.S. have been lost in the last 80 years, mainly due to the agri-food industry—think Monsanto and other agrochemical giants. Miraculous, vital seeds have been preserved for thousand of years. Now, they’re being lost forever—and fast. In 1903, there were 500 varieties of lettuce and by 1983, just 36.

Practical guide to green gardening

A few years ago, we produced the downloadable Guide pratique des trucs et conseils écolo en horticulture écologique (French only). It tells you how to care for your lawn, and control insects and weeds without toxic substances or pesticides, and has everything you need to know about preparing the soil, natural and chemical fertilizers, top dressing, spiders, caterpillars, ants, slugs and aphids. It’s well worth a read!

Did you know that from 2008 to 2014 the Quebec Poison Control Centre (CAPQ) received over 12,542 calls relating to pesticide poisoning, half of which involved children?

Borrow a book—or seeds—from the library!

The hit documentary Seeds : The Untold Story provides a good overview of seed issues and seed preservation initiatives around the world. Closer to home, libraries have started lending seeds.

Seed libraries, often located in public libraries, allow you to share seeds by borrowing, planting and returning them. As well as encouraging local, organic farming, this initiative helps to preserve heirloom seeds, develop a bank of seeds suited to our climate and decrease dependency on the agri-food industry.

In Montreal, you can borrow seeds at the grainothèque à la bibliothèque Ahuntsic, Atwater Seed LibraryEleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library, grainothèque Georges-Vaniergrainothèque de Rosemont Petite-Patrie, quartier Centre-Sud ou l’Arrondissement Ville-Marie and bibliothèque de Westmount.

Borrowing seeds from Westmount Public Library

  • The Seed Lending Library is situated near the Main Circulation desk.
  • You can take up to three seed packets per day.
  • The seeds must be checked out on your library card at the Main Circulation Desk.At the end of the season, you are encouraged to return some of your newly cultivated seeds to the Seed Lending Library— creating a culture of sharing and sustainability.

For more information on borrowing from a seed library, listen to the report “reportage de Radio-Canada « Emprunter des semences à la bibliothèque » on Radio-Canada’s food show, Bien dans son assiette.

Where to buy organic seeds

Jardins de l'Écoumène in Lanaudière. Seeds are produced on site.
Ferme coopérative Tourne-Sol in Les Cèdres in Montérégie-Ouest. Seeds are produced at the farm.
La société des plantes in Kamouraska. Seeds are primarily produced at the farm.

Largest organic seed suppliers
Johnny's selected seeds in the U.S.
William Dam in Ontario

Get to know your garden well—the kind of soil you have, the direction it faces and the prevailing wind—so you pick the right seeds. And opt for local varieties that are suited to the local environment and climate. They will have the best chance to thrive, being less vulnerable to disease.

Not a green thumb? We have a solution! #paniersbio

If you care about your health and our land but don’t have a green thumb, you can buy local, organic fruits and vegetables. Better still, sign up for a basket every week or two from a friendly family farmer and eat seasonally. No need for a vegetable garden. Find a farmer and the nearest drop-off point at


For inspiration on a rainy day or while you relax after gardening :)

- Watch Marc Séguin’s film La Ferme et son État / The State of Farming
- Read Jean-Martin Fortier’s book Le Jardinier-Maraicher and watch the film
- Watch the reality TV show, Les Fermiers [The Farmers], on Unis TV
- The movie Seeds : The Untold Story