Garden Oasis: 5 Must-Haves to Go Non-ToxicMore Vegetables Solutions
by Arzeena Hamir, an agronomist with
You want your garden to be an oasis of safety and health -- and you know that
toxic pesticides are harmful to your family and to the environment. Good for
you! But what can you do about those destructive pests?
Here are five kitchen-cupboard ingredients that no organic gardener should be
without, that will help you solve all your pest problems n/aturally,
inexpensively and effectively. Some of them will really surprise you!

Simple Solution:
With the EPA's recent phasing out of common pesticides such as Dursban and
Diazinon, we are now realizing that many of the chemicals that we thought were
"safe" were never actually tested to see what their affect on children, women,
and the elderly could be. The time has come to reassess our dependence on
For anyone contemplating the switch to organic gardening, here are the five
must-have ingredients that should be in every gardener's toolkit:
Many cultures around the world have used garlic as a natural antibiotic and
antifungal remedy. When garlic is combined with mineral oil and soap, it becomes
a very effective pest control product. However, when it is sprayed, it is not a
selective insecticide. It can be used to control cabbageworm, leafhoppers,
squash bugs, whitefly, but will also affect beneficial insects so be careful
where and when you apply this product.
Recipe: Allow 3 ounces of finely chopped garlic to soak in 2 teaspoons of
mineral oil for 24 hours. Add 1 pint of water and ¼ ounce of liquid dish soap.
Stir well and strain into a glass jar for storage. This is your concentrate.
To use: Combine 1-2 tablespoons of concentrate in 1 pint of water to make the
spray. Do be careful not to make the solution too strong. While garlic is safe
for humans, when combined with oil & soap, the mixture can cause leaf injury on
sensitive plants. Always test the lower leaves of plants first to make sure they
aren't affected.
Fungal diseases can be a serious problem for gardeners, especially in the heat
of the summer. Powdery mildew and black spot seem to be the most common diseases
that cause gardeners to reach for the spray bottle. Now, instead of reaching for
a chemical fungicide, gardeners can open the fridge for an excellent fungal
control - milk!
In 1999, a Brazilian scientist found that milk helped control powdery mildew on
cucumbers just as effectively as a synthetic fungicide. Since the study was
published, the news has traveled around the world and encouraged gardeners and
farmers alike to try milk as a fungal control for a variety of diseases. So far,
there has been success reported on the use of milk to control powdery mildew on
a variety of different plants. In addition, it has also been found to be an
affective control of black spot on roses.
Any type of milk can be used from full milk to skim to powder. However, the low
fat milks have less of a chance of giving off any odour. The recipe calls for
milk to be mixed with water at a ratio of 1 part milk to 9 parts water and
applied every 5-7 days for 3 applications.
Slugs are attracted to chemicals given off by the fermentation process. The most
popular bait has been beer. However, not all beers are created equal. In 1987, a
study at Colorado State University Entomology Professor Whitney found that
Kingsbury Malt Beverage, Michelob, and Budweiser attracted slugs far better than
other brands.
Whatever the type of beer you use, you can create your own slug trap. Use
cottage cheese, margarine, or similar size plastic containers. Put between 1/2
and 2 inches of beer in each container and place the containers around your
garden, especially around plants prone to slug damage. Never, sink the
containers with their rims flush with the soil level or you run the risk of
drowning ground beetles, important slug controllers. The rims should be 1" above
the soil's surface. You will probably need to empty the container of drowned
slugs every other night. The range of slug traps is only a few feet so you need
to supply a few traps throughout your garden.
Floating Row Cover
The easiest method of pest control is to prevent damage in the first place.
Using a physical barrier like a floating row cover will prevent insect pests
from reaching your plants and chewing them or laying their eggs on them. I find
floating row covers a must when growing carrots to prevent carrot rust fly
damage and when draped over my broccoli, I prevent imported cabbageworm from
defoliating my plants.
Floating row cover is a fabric made of spun polypropelene fibres. The fabric
itself is very lightweight and will sit on top of your plants without causing
any damage. The fabric allows both light and water to penetrate it but prevents
even the smallest insects like flea beetles from getting to your plants.
The fabric is sold at most garden centers under many names like Reemay,
Agrofabric and Agribon and comes in a variety of different weights. The lighter
weight fabrics are best for use during the summer. The heavier fabrics do hold
in some heat and are best used in the early spring or late fall. The added bonus
is that they can also help extend the gardening season by a few weeks!
Weeds are some of the hardest pests to control organically without resorting to
physically pulling each one out. If your weeds are coming up in small clusters,
it is easy to deal with them by pouring boiling water over them. However, if
you've got a large area, the best way to control them is to smother them, also
known as sheet mulching.
I prefer to use either newspaper or cardboard to smother my weeds instead of
plastic. Both newspaper and cardboard degrade naturally and will, over time, add
carbon into my soil, helping provide organic material. In addition, most
newspapers are now printed with soy-based inks, which will also degrade in the
If you decide to use newspaper, make sure you place it at least 4-6 sheets thick
over your weeds. One layer of cardboard is usually sufficient to get the same
effect. It takes at least a month to kill most weeds so I find the best way to
use this method is to place the newspaper or cardboard over the weeds in the
fall. Come springtime, the weeds are dead, the mulch has degraded, and I've got
wonderful soil to work with.
For anyone who is concerned about the aesthetics of newspaper or cardboard, you
can also cover the mulch with grass clippings, compost or bark mulch for a nicer
look. Make sure whatever you use is free of weed seeds.
Arzeena Hamir is an agronomist and garden writer with Organic Living Newsletter.
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Disclaimer: does not warrant and shall have no liability for
information provided in this newsletter or on Each individual person,
fabric, or material may react differently to a particular suggested use. It is
recommended that before you begin to use any formula, you read the directions
carefully and test it first. Should you have any health care-related questions
or concerns, please call or see your physician or other health care provider.
Description: Garden Oasis: 5 Must-Haves to Go Non-Toxic
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Garden Oasis: 5 Must-Haves to Go Non-Toxic

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