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Dealing With Garden Pests the Organic Way

For many gardeners, a good offense is better than a good defense when it comes to pests in the garden. As soon as some gardeners plant their first seeds, they are already thinking about pest control. The question is, when is it necessary to step in with pest control methods?

If you have bugs in your garden, find out what they are. The same is true about plant diseases. There are many books, field guides and garden websites to help you identify your insects, and someone at your local nursery may be able to help with local pests. You may find that the “pests” in your garden are not doing any harm at all!

In fact, over 95% of the insects in your garden are either beneficial or cause no harm. Some, like bees and butterflies, are vital to the fertilization process for plants. Most ant species simply collect weed seeds and insect eggs and are known as “nature’s vacuum cleaners.” Centipedes prey on slugs and snails, dragonflies eat mosquitoes and aphids, and the common ground beetle feeds on cutworms. Lady bugs, spiders, lacewings and even some types of mites are also natural “pest control” species that should definitely be welcomed into your garden.

Broad-spectrum insecticides often kill the good insects. For instance, Malathion, a common mosquito-killer, kills the mosquito-eating dragonfly population as well! As an organic gardener, you do have safe, natural options to control pests. In fact, many of them can be made from common household products.

Methods to Control Pest Insects
The first thing to remember is to spot-treat the problem, rather than trying to spray and treat your entire garden. Second, good ol’ water is one of the most effective weapons.

Select a control measure that targets the pest. Use the insect’s own biology against it. An insect cannot become resistant to its own biology, and you will win this battle every time. For instance, use a natural bait that is poisonous for ants that you know they will carry back to their nest and feed to their queen. This won’t kill them right away, but if you are patient, you will find that the whole mound will be dead in a week or two. One suggestion is to find out what they like (sugar? grease?) Then take the ingredient and mix in some borax – not too much, or they’ll either detect it or die before reaching the colony.

Home-made Insect Sprays

These home-made organic pesticides are just as effective and a lot less toxic to the environment than those that are available commercially. In fact, many are completely non-toxic.

Basic Oil Spray:

1 cup of vegetable oil (soybean, corn or canola)
1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid.

Place oil and water in a jar or empty ketchup bottle. Leftovers can be kept in these containers for later use. Take 1 tablespoon of oil mixture from above and add 2 cups of water. Mix the solution in a spray bottle and spray the plant with the problem infestation. As oil and water don’t mix, shake the spray bottle often to keep the solution well mixed. Repeat every 10 days.

Alcohol Oil Spray

To increase the effectiveness of the basic oil spray, add some isopropyl alcohol to the mixture. This mix is lethal to many insects.

1 cup alcohol
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 quart water

Mix ingredients together and place in spray bottle. Spray on infested plants as necessary.

Basic Soap Spray

Soap spray is the most common of all homemade sprays. It works best on soft- bodied insect such as mites, aphids, whiteflies, thrips and many others. It works by penetrating the cell membranes and causing the insects to dry out. Soap is less effective on fast- moving insects, because the spray must come into contact with them. Soap is safe on all edible vegetables and usually leaves no residue on plants.

2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid
1 gallon warm water.

Mix and use as a spray.

Insect Repellents

Many problem insects can’t stand certain plants and spices, and will avoid them at all costs. Here’s a few examples:

Garlic and hot spices

All bugs hate strong odors and spices, and garlic and hot pepper is the most effective. Simply take some garlic powder, or hot pepper juice or flakes, mix it with water and spray. Careful though, too much will harm your plants.


Sprinkle corn meal around the base of your plants to repel several types of pests, such as cutworms. Cornmeal, worked into the soil, also attracts a type of fungus that kills disease-causing fungi.

Beer or Yeast

Mix beer or yeast with water and create a pitfall trap such as a shallow cup sunken into the ground to attract and drown snails and slugs.

These is just a few of many natural solutions to control your pest problem. With a healthy organic garden, you’ll have a lot of beneficial insects and birds helping you out, and rich, natural soil will mean healthy, strong plants that can better resist insects and disease. Sometimes you will need to intervene to control an escalating problem. Just make sure that the insects that you are killing are not the beneficial ones!

Organic Hydroponic Gardening

What is organic hydroponic gardening?

Well, first you need to know what hydroponics is before you can understand how it is used organically. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in water and nutrients as opposed to growing in soil. Many people feel that this is better for the plants. Many people use organic hydroponic gardening when growing food items like vegetables for eating.

When it comes to hydroponics, many people have mistakenly thought that it was non-organic but this is not true. Water is organic, as is the nutrients that are used and the fertilizer can also be adapted to be organic so you can easily have organic hydroponic gardening.

What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is a Latin word that when translated basically means “working-water”. Hydroponics refers to a method of gardening that is safer for the environment. Using indoor gardening methods, water and lighting, etc. plants are grown. This method of growing plants without soil has been dated back as far as the 1600s but has really become more popular recently. People have been growing in water since before they began planting in soil.

Hydroponics progressed over the years but with the invention of plastics, it really took off again. The creation of plastic was a huge step forward for hydroponics. This is because it allowed you to use plastic for the pots and it made the entire process a bit easier so more people are willing to try it over traditional soil planting.

You know that your plant needs nutrients to survive. The key to hydroponics is how you feed the nutrients to the plant. In addition to water and oxygen your plant as needs large amounts of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and sulfur. Some other nutrients that are needed in smaller amounts are iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc. Your plants can also use molybdenum and chlorine but in such small supplies that they usually get it from the water or from the other minerals so you don’t really have to worry about adding these.

What is Organic Gardening?

Organic gardening typically refers to gardening that uses on organic methods. Something is considered “organic” when it comes from the earth. For example, animals and plants are organic. Anything that comes from animals such as fecal matter is also organic. So anything that used in organic gardening needs to be organic and not artificial. Since water is organic, you can use both hydroponics and organic or semi-organic gardening in the same garden.

In addition to nutrients your plants also need oxygen and nitrogen to live and be able. It also has to have a proper pH (potential Hydrogen) balance. When you use hydroponics in addition to organic fertilizer and other organic gardening methods, you can have healthier, better plants.

Mediums and Anchorage

Since the plants are not grown in soil, water and nutrients need to be absorbed somehow. The medium is used for anchorage to let the plant soak up the nutrients. The most common types of mediums are Heydite and Rockwool. They are both made of rock but there are some differences in the two. Which is better really depends on who you ask and what types of plants you are planting.

Your growing media can also be vermiculite, perlite (pearlite), peat, coco-husk (coir), straw as well as other organic materials. You can use organic fertilizer from many different sources including cow, chicken, pig, and sheep manure, seaweed, bat guano, fish emulsion and entrails, urine, bone and blood, as well as many other natural sources. The problem with organic fertilizer is the obvious; that you must consider any possible health concerns.


You will be happy to know that it’s easy to take plants from soil and transplant them to a hydroponic system. You can pull the plants out gently and then rinse the roots in cold water. Next you just spread the roots in the bottom of the hydroponic pot and fill it with your growing product.

It is never too late to begin organic hydroponic gardening. You can transplant your soil based garden to hydroponics today. Or you can begin your own hydroponic garden without much trouble at all. If you are looking for a safer and more environment friendly method of gardening, then you should try hydroponics. It can also be a lot of fun for you to study this ancient method of gardening. It is fairly simple to begin but at the same time you can spend a lot of time learning more about it and perfecting it.

Water Gardening

Do you want to build a backyard water garden or pond? If so, you need to know what you are doing but don’t be intimidated because almost anyone can do it with some careful planning.

Water gardens in most climates need to be at least two feet deep. If you are in a colder climate, you can provide about 12″ to 16″ of water below the freeze zone. One of the most important steps in creating your pond is to choose the right location. So how do you know where to put your pond?

Where to Put Your Pond

You probably want your pond close to your home so that you can enjoy it fully and you will be able to see it year round. You will also be able to see birds, butterflies and more that will be attracted to your water garden. You will also want to be sure that you put it somewhere so that rainwater runoff will not down into the pond.

Depending on the layout of your backyard, there may be some landscaping required to get this done. But it’s important that rainwater doesn’t get into the pond because it may have chemicals, fertilizers, etc that will kill life in your water garden. You also want to be sure you don’t put your pond too close to tress or leaves and other debris will get into the water.

If you want to have water lilies then you also need to have your pond where it will receive sunlight each day. About four to six hours of direct sunlight will be needed. If you are only going to have fish in your pond, than it is okay for you to put it in the shade. If you are planning on having a lot of fish in your water garden, you will also want some kind of water circulation with a pump. You might also choose to have a water filtration system although it is not necessary. You can look into the different types of biological filters that are available.

How to Build your Pond

When building your pond you need to know what size it is going to be. You can do this by using a rope or something similar to stretch across to see how big you will make the pond. The biggest mistake that do-it-yourself water gardeners make is to make the pond too small. If you have Koi, it should be at least 3 feet deep to accommodate the large fish. In fact, a larger pond will be more stable anyway.

You also need to remember that a finished pond is going to be about 30% smaller than the first mapped out plan is going to look. So go bigger or you will end up with a pond that is too small. You are going to dig the whole for your pond and then apply the lining. Then you are going to apply any pond filter, skimmers, etc to the proper level and location.

Next you are going to put the pond underlayment and the rubber pond liner. Now if you are going to have streams flowing from your pond, you can excavate them now. Now you connect the pond liner to the pond skimmer and place the coping stone. Next you are going to want to do the edging of the pond. Depending on the type that you have, you will have different types of edging. The next step will be to add a de-chlorinator to remove any chlorination that may be in the pond. You should then add plants as soon as possible. You will also add packaged bacteria to balance the life in the pool and fish should be added a few at a time to keep the balance right in the pond. Adding too much at one time may cause them all to die.

Now you have a beautiful water garden. If properly maintained it will continue to grow in beauty over time. Once you establish a proper balance in your water garden with fish, plant life and bacteria, it will maintain itself very well. If you also have filters, you will not have to do anything else except change the filters and remove any debris that might fall into it. Otherwise, the water garden will be pretty self-sustaining.

Smoothfoam gave me these balls to create a really cool garden design feature. SEE more pics and SUPPLY LIST on the blog!

Use these garden globes for:
– wedding decorations
– landscape design
– party decor
– in your garden
– in pots
– in flower beds

These DIY gazing balls would look really cool along a pathway or bridal walk or even as centerpieces. Can you just imagine these landscaping ideas in your garden or yard? Use glass marbles from the dollar store to make these really affordably!

SUPPLY LIST – affiliate links

• Smoothfoam RT182.5 Half Ball Pastel, 12-Inch, White  ——
• Smoothfoam Balls Crafts Foam for Modeling, 6-Inch, White  ——
• FolkArt® Acrylic Paint  ——
• Foam Brush by ArtMinds  ——
• FPC H-270 Full Size High Temperature Glue Gun FPC  ——

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