My gardening grandfather came visiting from Germany round 1910. He was an natural gardener, maybe as a result of there have been few chemical substances offered to kill bugs and ailments again then. He gardened the old style means: hen manure for fertilizer, hand choosing to maintain potato beetles below management, and a great compost pile to nurture the soil.
When Natural Farming and Gardening Journal began up within the 1940s, Grampy was an early subscriber — and a believer in natural gardening. He grew nice greens and prize-winning flowers. I grew up spending time on his small farm each summer season and serving to within the backyard. I’ve at all times believed in natural gardening: gardening with out chemical substances.
That stated, I perceive why many gardeners use chemical substances: one thing is threatening their roses or their broccoli. Flea beetles are making holes of their cabbage. And what about chemical substances to make the tomatoes develop sooner and greater? I get the urge, too. However there are alternate options.
First, I need to clarify that chemical fertilizers are typically salts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They’re water-soluble and might be taken up quick by vegetation, pushing quick development. However quick development just isn’t at all times good: stems are sometimes weaker, and extra nitrogen in vegetation attracts insect pests. Bugs want it to kind the proteins required for them to develop and have infants. Not solely that, just a few days of heavy rain can dissolve your fertilizer and wash it away.
However in case you are used to utilizing bagged fertilizers, you should utilize bagged natural fertilizers. They’re constructed from issues like seaweed and floor oyster shells, cottonseed meal or floor peanut shells. They’re damaged down by microorganisms within the soil and made out there over a for much longer time period. Not like chemical fertilizers, they will’t burn root hairs if an excessive amount of is utilized.
Then there’s compost. Compost improves soil qualities in addition to including wanted minerals to the soil. It makes heavy soils fluffier, and it makes sandy soils higher capable of maintain water. Make your personal or purchase it in luggage or by the truckload. You should utilize it as mulch and let the earthworms carry it down into the soil.
What about bugs? First, please perceive that not all bugs are dangerous. There are a lot of helpful bugs, bugs that eat the dangerous boys. I’ve few insect pests, however by no means spray something to kill bugs. If you happen to spray your roses to kill the Japanese beetles, chances are you’ll be killing helpful parasitic wasp larvae which can be on the roses however unseen.
My first line of protection is at all times to hand-pick downside bugs. I get to acknowledge them, after which decide them and drop them in soapy water. If you happen to don’t like dealing with Japanese beetles, get a gallon milk jug and reduce away a part of the highest, leaving the deal with. Add soapy water and maintain the jug below the leaf and faucet it till the wrongdoer falls in. Or you may simply crush them together with your fingers, as many gardeners do. They’re simple to catch early within the morning, earlier than they’ve had their espresso (or maybe heat up within the solar).
Gardening practices may also help, too. For instance, I plant my potatoes in June, lengthy after most books say to. I discover that I get fewer potato beetles that means. And as soon as the leaves are up, I test for beetles typically. I look below the leaves for orange egg plenty and scrape them right into a jar of soapy water. I drown the larvae and beetles if I see them.
I’ve learn that the life cycle of a Colorado potato beetle from egg to grownup is 35 to 40 days. Plant in early April, and every potato beetle can begin one other era 4 or 5 instances or so earlier than harvest. Break the cycle early to maintain numbers down, as every mama beetle lays many eggs.
I’ve had bother with beetles consuming my cucumbers and squash vegetation, defoliating them when they’re small. The beetles are quick and arduous to catch. So what do I do? I drape a lightweight, gauzy movie of agricultural cloth over vegetation to maintain bugs from bodily attending to my vegetation. This fabric permits solar and rain to go by, however not bugs. It’s referred to as row cowl, or identified by commerce names resembling Reemay and Agribon. There are different model names, too.
Typically I take advantage of wire hoops to maintain the row cowl off the vegetation; different instances I simply lay the quilt over the vegetation. I pin the material down with earth staples to maintain it from blowing off. Since vine crops are insect-pollinated, I must take it off as soon as the vegetation begin to bloom.
Row cowl just isn’t good: striped cucumber beetles reside within the soil, and generally they’ll seem below the row cowl, however principally it prevents them from attending to the vegetation. To be on the protected aspect, I begin cukes and squash inside the home three weeks or extra earlier than planting time (or purchase a six-pack of begins). That offers me good-sized vegetation that may survive some beetle munching.
As an natural gardener, I settle for that generally bugs or ailments win. However my backyard at all times feeds me, and I like working in it.
Henry Homeyer’s weblog seems twice every week at gardening-guy.com. Write to him at P.O. Field 364, Cornish Flat, N.H. 03746. Please embody a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you want a mailed response. Or electronic mail email@example.com.