Despite the fact that we have had snow for six days in a row now, I have been dreaming of spring. I love watching the earth awaken from her winter sleep and begin to grow and bloom. Spring is also when I start planning what I will grow in my vegetable garden and start planting flowers around my house.
Last summer J and I lived off of the veggies from our garden. There is something so wonderful about eating the food you grow. We learned alot last year about natural gardening. We have always used our compost dirt to enrich our garden. Natural fertilizer is wonderful as well. Since we have livestock, we have an abundance of it. Our “fertilizer” is in high demand in the summer. Most people who come up to get our fertilizer put it directly on their garden. We do not do this since it attracts bugs. We keep ours behind our barn and turn it ever so often, then the next summer we use the highly nutrient soil that is left over on our garden.
Obviously, I am lucky enough to have the space for a compost, fertilizer pile, etc but their are some things you can do with little space. Buy organic soil, or find a friend with a fertilizer pile and use some of their soil for your garden. Another option, a few weeks before you plant, shred some newspaper, lay it out over your soil, mist lightly with water then turn it every few days. This will mix the newspaper into the earth and help it decompose, releasing nutrients into your soil. You can also spread a layer of newspaper on the earth, cut holes into it where you will be planting (the newspaper should not touch your plants) and then cover with a layer of top soil. This will help keep weeds away.
Several solutions for bugs and pests. We use windmills to keep moles away. They feel the movement under the soil and leave the area.
Crows are also a big problem, making a simple scarecrow will help keep birds away. Make sure your scarecrow has some loose clothing to blow in the wind and create movement. I know some people who drill holes into soda cans and tie them to the arms of the scarecrow to make movement and sound.
Slugs were a HUGE problem for us last year. We had slugs everywhere. To fight slugs, save your used coffee grounds and spread them on top of your soil, the grounds will irritate the slugs skin and they will leave the area. You can do the same with crushed egg shells.
Bugs, this is a little trickier because their are so many kinds of bugs. Some things we have found to work. Foiling bugs, lay aluminum foil on the ground around the plant. Bugs do not like the reflective surface. This also works well to bounce sunlight off the foil and onto the underside of plants giving them more light to grow. This is especially good for Oregon where we do not get much sunlight.
A natural insecticide you can make at home is to combine one tablespoon of cooking oil, two tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Pour into a spray bottle, shake well and spray directly onto the plant, making sure to get the under side of the leaves as well.
For mites, mix two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper with a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Pour into a spray bottle, shake well and spray directly onto the plant, making sure to get the under side of the leaves as well.
Fungal diseases on plants will draw bugs to them. To fight fungus, mix two tablespoons of baking soda into a quart of water. Pour into a spray bottle and spray the affected areas. Repeat this process every few days until the fungus is gone.
These methods have helped us keep our garden all natural and toxin free. Hopefully, you will find some of this information useful or at least get you dreaming of spring as well.