We sent this organic growing and pest management guide out to all of the Wangari Gardens plot holders this spring…with all the green out there, the tips must be working!!
Here are some tips for how to use organic methods to keep your plants healthy and pests away!
Healthy soil has a good balance of these three nutrients: nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Calcium is also an important nutrient for growing good vegetables.
To add nitrogen:
-mix in peanut shells with your soil
-grow beans, peanuts, or sweet peas sporadically throughout your plot
To add potassium:
-cut up banana peels very small, and mix in with your soil (if things are already planted, just mix in with the top layer of soil
-if you have a firepit outside, take a small amount of the wood ashes and mix them in
-mix in a seaweed product with your soil
To add phosphorus:
-there is rarely a phosphorus deficiency in home or small garden soil, this is mainly a problem in big farms that use the same land heavily over and over without adding new soil
-adding general organic soil, manure, or compost will solve any phosphorus deficiencies
To add calcium:
-save egg shells, crush them really small, and mix in with soil
-use organic bonemeal fertilizers
Adding compost to your soil each season is the BEST way to get all of these nutrients into your soil.
Also, we have the worm boxes! Worm poop is a very nutrient dense type of fertilizer…feel free to grab some worm poop and add it in.
If you have rabbits at home, their poop is great compost – let it break down for a while at home, then spread it on the top of your soil.
There are also plenty of organic plant foods and fertilizers out there – use, but follow the directions…adding too much of it can shock or burn your plants.
Fish fertilizers, seaweed extract, and fish emulsion are very nutrient rich, but BEWARE—do not be surprised if a dog or some other critter is attracted to the smell and digs in your bed!! I made this mistake early on when we first planted the kiwi vine.
(Speaking of dogs, if you bring your dog to the garden, make sure it’s on a leash when inside the garden fence!!)
If you want to get more scientific, here’s a cool article about how to concoct your own organic fertilizer:
Organic pest control:
It’s about that time when the bugs come out to play!!
If you have bugs on your plants, don’t worry – about 90% of all garden bugs are either benign or actually good for your plants, either pollinating them, or eating the bad ones! Only a few garden bugs are detrimental. Even if you see some “bad” bugs, they may not be damaging your plants. A balance of good and bad is what you want, because the good bugs eat the bad bugs….but if there are no bad bugs left, the good bugs might start eating your plants!
However, if you are overridden by bad bugs or other pests, there are some good natural remedies.
-lacewing (long green w delicate wings)
-aphids (tiny green)
-cabbageworm (looks like an inchworm, attacks leafy greens like cabbage, kales, collards, broccoli, lettuce)
-cucumber beetle (yellow and black stripes, attacks cucumbers, squash, melons)
-cutworms (we have lots of these! White maggots found under the soil, they attack young seedlings)
-slug and snail
-squash bugs (brown, flat, hides under squash leaves)
-tomato hornworm (big green caterpiller w horns, attacks tomatoes, peppers, eggplant)
-Make a homemade spray by boiling water with garlic and lots of hot pepper flakes, sauce, or chopped up hot peppers. Add a couple of drops of organic dish soap. Use the spray on plants and the soil around the base of the plants. Just remember to wash off your veggies before eating, or they will be really spicy!
-hand picking is the most effective way to get rid of bad bugs. Make sure you kill them! Also, check the undersides of your plant leaves. If you see what looks like eggs, research to find out what kind of eggs they are….you can stop the problem before they hatch!
-make little collars for baby plants out of old plastic bottles or soda cans, to hide stems from crawling pests
-water early in the morning to avoid a damp garden at night
-release ladybugs to eat aphids and other small pests (some kids cAme and released ladybugs in your plots last month, but more won’t hurt!)
-plant marigolds. Sage, basil, thyme, mums, garlic, chives, and other strong smelling plants around your garden border. Strong scents often drive garden pests away.
- mix up what you plant, to confuse the bugs. If there aren’t many of the same type of plant, they will have a hard time finding things