Hello everyone, and thank you all for your continued following.
I have been amazed at how many people still pick up the black and white, and how many folks are reading outside of our area. A big thank you to my readers near and far — some as far away as Tacoma, Washington and St. Louis, Missouri. Sometimes it takes a good shaking of your foundation to learn just what skills you have that were hidden in plain sight. It has been a pleasure sharing what I have learned over the years.
Today, I want to cover two questions I hear a lot. How can I get rid of bugs without chemicals, and are there alternatives to traditional fertilizers? The answers are yes and yes, to be short and simple. The key is persistence and developing a threshold for each that suits your personal garden desires.
First I would like to explain a personal garden pest threshold.
Every garden will have some level of insect and other kinds of garden pest. A personal threshold is what you as an individual or small group find suitable. Keep in mind as well that even though we may not like some insects or other pests, it is not reasonable to assume that total removal will happen. It is also not beneficial to the overall ecosystem of your garden. Without these pests existence, our beneficial insects would die of starvation.
How to find your personal threshold:
• Determine what pest(s) you have. This can be accomplished using simple glue traps hanging in the air or placed on the ground where the problems are found. Pest counting traps can also be purchased online on many garden websites and Amazon.com.
• After your traps have been out in the garden for a good week to two weeks, remove the traps and count how many of each insect was found. Next, roughly figure out your garden’s square footage. For example, a garden 20 feet long by 20 feet wide is an area of 400 square feet. Now divide the number of pests by your square feet. This will give you a good idea of how many pests you have per square foot.
Choosing you’re type of pest control, now that you know what pest you have:
Always keep in mind that any product misused can cause harm, chemical or natural. Both are very strong and misuse can result in its own problems. By using natural choices, you are looking to reduce the man-made chemical residue on your soil and combat pests with solutions that are thousands of years old, but with modern application tools, more effective than ever.
Many of today’s pesticides have been so greatly misused that pests have become immune to them. Also, we are learning more and more that products once thought harmless, may or may not be as safe as we were told.
Choosing your type of natural control:
• Using live plants
• Using plant oils delivered using a sprayer, or simply put out by hand or put out in containers.
• Using a combination of both.
I will use two pest as an example of using natural controls and finding your desired threshold.
Fleas can be brought under control best with a combination of plants and oils.
Lavender plants are great for flea control. If treating to help your pets, plant lavender about 4 feet apart around the area your pet goes out to most, such as your lawn. Lavender can be grown in the ground or in planters placed around your yard.
You will also need to treat your pet using a lavender shampoo. Always check with your pet’s veterinarian before using any products for pet pest control to avoid allergic reactions.
Using a hand-held sprayer, spray a lavender oil product on the grass itself.
After one week, see if you have a desired result. If you do, put out new traps to catch what fleas are there, and check the traps after a week. If you have less than before and are happy with your results, then you now know your threshold.
Continue to use the oil as directed on the label. Using more than recommended is just wasting your money and time.
Basil is great for mosquito control, you can plant it in planters around your yard or in your deck –wherever you desire control.
Also be sure to remove any standing water. This includes tires, bird feeders, bird baths and untreated water in swimming pools.
You can also use basil oil as a spray or used freshly cut leaves on plates.
Here is a list of edible plants you can use indoors and outdoors to help with insect and rodent issues. Most of these plants create an undesirable environment and cause the pest to leave, but does not kill them.
• Lavender controls fleas and mosquitoes.
• Basil controls mosquitoes and house flies.
• Garlic helps repel deer and beetles.
• Fennel works for slug control.
• Lemon grass — not that well-known, but the people of Thailand have used it for centuries as a repellent and as a food.
• Mint is good for mouse control. Traps and mint work well in tandem.
• Chrysanthemum strategically placed makes life miserable for roaches and silverfish.
• Sage works well with all flying insects. Remember when it comes to insects that fly, you must be as persistent and constant with control as they are trying to make life miserable for you.
Next I will cover feeding your plants:
Most of you already have an awesome fertilizer that when used alternated with other liquid organic fertilizers, could win you the blue ribbon at fair. One such alternative fertilizer is used coffee grounds. Used coffee grounds are mostly neutral in acid and is a great source of nitrogen for your plants.
I like to use grounds to create a compost tea. Mix 4 ounces of grounds with 2 gallons of water and mix with compost. After it steeps in the compost water mixture for a couple days, apply to the plant base.
You can also put the grounds directly around the plants drip line mixed into the soil.
Coffee grounds are nature’s best neutral fertilizer as they will not change your soil’s ph.
Coffee grounds can also be used for pest control. For ants, it takes a lot of it, but it works. Put a two-inch wide, an eighth of an inch deep bead all the way around your home or area of concern.