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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Natural Bug Patrol Part 3

Now for our final part of Natural Bug Patrol, Garden Pests!  For all of you gardners out there you know exactly what I am talking about! The things that bite holes through your leaves, the worms that will destroy your tomato plants and even the animals that come out at night to steal your corn (I know these aren't bugs but if you decide to try sweet corn, racoons are a big threat)!  Her are some or our favorite ways to keep our garden safe.

Fertilization:  Fertilizers provide nutrients and aids with healthy soil composition. In addition to protecting roots and encouraging plant growth, rich soil contains organisms that compete with pests and inhibit infestation. While most commercial fertilizers are formulated with acids that can damage these organisms, organic alternatives do not carry this risk. Think about starting a compost pile, save your grass clippings, these are both natural fertilizers that your garden will love!

Eggshells: Eggshells provide valuable nutrients to soil and are also an excellent source of calcium. Wash well, dry, and crush before adding to the soil. Eggshells are especially helpful for tomatoes because the extra calcium helps lower the chances of blossom end rot. You can also use eggshells as a pest deterrent. Crush and mix with a little sea salt. Then spread it around tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and cabbage.  The crushed egg shells acts as broken glass which hinders proper movement while the salt dehydrates slugs and snails.

Coffee Grounds: Slugs and snails, two garden foes, are no fans of coffee. Mulch with coffee grounds around plants bothered by these munching pests, and you will see a reduction in damage. It is said, that the caffeine in the grounds is absorbed by the slugs as they move over them, and it acts as a poison. Safe for you and your soil --- not so much for the slugs.
Worms love to eat coffee grounds, because of their small particle size, moisture retention, and their tendency to grow microorganisms.  And as every gardener knows, worms are very beneficial to gardens aerating the soil and working in important nutrients.  Adding coffee grounds to your soil will make it more attractive to worms, directly benefiting your plants.

Marigolds: Marigolds are a wonderful flower to plant in your vegetable garden. Their
smell will keep away rabbits, deer, and squirrels, as well as harmful types of insects. In addition, it helps attract beneficial insects to your garden as well.
 For information on other other plants that will repel pests CLICK HERE. 

Natural Pesticides:
  • Grind 3 large onions, 1 bunch of garlic and 3 hot peppers. Mix with water and leave overnight in a covered container. In the morning, strain through fine strainer or cheesecloth and add sufficient water to produce approximately one gallon (16 cups) of pesticide.
  • Soak 10-15 diced garlic cloves in a pint (2 cups) of mineral oil for 24 hours. Strain and add to a spray bottle.
Fungal Diseases: For fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, you can mix up a homemade fungicide. Fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water and add a tablespoon of baking soda, a tablespoon of dish washing liquid, and a tablespoon of cooking oil. Shake to mix well and spray.

Tomato Hornworms: To read about how to keep your garden free of these destructive worms CLICK HERE.
Radio: If the main predator of your garden are raccoons, rabbits, deer, etc, you may want to try keeping a radio on at night.  Animals do not like coming out around humans, so while you are sleeping put an all talk (this is very important) radio station on and sleep with no worries of 4 legged thieves in the night!  We tried this one year with our sweet corn after having trouble with raccoons.  It worked wonderfully until one night we chose a station that went off air in the middle of the night.  We woke up to peeled and eaten corn all over the ground.  Also, do not use a music station, only the talk stations work effectively.

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