Garden Oasis: 5 Must-Haves to Go Non-Toxic

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      Garden Oasis: 5 Must-Haves to Go Non-ToxicMore Vegetables Solutions
      by Arzeena Hamir, an agronomist with http://www.tvorganics.com
      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
      pesticides.
      For anyone contemplating the switch to organic gardening, here are the five
      must-have ingredients that should be in every gardener’s toolkit:
      Garlic
      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.
      Milk
      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.
      Beer
      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!
      Newspaper/Cardboard
      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
      garden.
      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.
      Subscribe to this free e-newsletter at https://www.tvorganics.com

      Disclaimer: Care2.com does not warrant and shall have no liability for
      information provided in this newsletter or on Care2.com. 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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