Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Think Before You Spray

Too many times when we have a pest invasion in our garden, we reach for the chemicals. It’s an immediate reaction; I mean how can you not? The bugs often invade fast, and it’s the panic that gets you….back in the day that was my reaction too. Not now.

Before you spray, do your research. Despite what most of the chemical pesticide, insecticide (etc.) companies tell you, it’s not the only answer. Over the years I have found sure fire ways that work just as well (maybe a little more effort is involved) and you don’t have to worry about chemicals on your crops. I have quite a few animals, and between gardening and them, I have been able to banish most chemicals from my property. I worry most about my 4 dogs, and if you have dogs yourself, read up on the chemicals you use; it is scary how most chemicals used just on lawns raise the lymphoma rate in dogs by 50%. Frightening, right?

If you look to your organic remedies, even some of those aren’t safe for you to handle. That makes me uncomfortable. If it’s not safe for me to handle, I don’t want to spray it in my yard for my critters to come in contact with, no way. Like I said though, there are other options!

Aphids for examples, regular spraying with a “weak” soap water solution will kill them in no time (2 tablespoons per gallon, but I use a little stronger solution). I prefer to use Dr. Bronner’s organic, free trade soap in peppermint or orange. This same mixture also works great on spider mites, which are prolific during the summer here (zone 9). It may have been made for people, but works great for the solution as well….not to mention it smells wonderful, and now worries about the mist….it’s all safe!

Fungus gnats? Put out a bowl filled with apple cider vinegar mixed with a tiny bit of soap, or left over beer. They are attracted to fermentation/decomposition, and they drown in either solution. I use both in my home greenhouse. It will not wipe them out immediately, but much better than worrying about what is going to contaminate your food. Even better set a trap for them, they are attracted to wheat which acts as a good decoy plant.

A great natural preventative is planting garlic (or a lot of other things in the onion family). I’ve planted it among a lot of different crops, and it seems to deter/greatly reduce the pests. For every rule there an exception though! We get black aphids during the cold weather which seem completely happy eating ANYTHING in the onion family.

Just remember, think before you spray! With a little research, and a little extra effort you can ban the toxic chemicals forever! Good luck and happy gardening!

About the Author
Megan McDonald is a garden blog writer for Heirloom Garden Girl. Megan’s garden specialties are tomatoes, peppers, heirlooms and organics. She is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, who operates the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook and the widely popular Seeds of the Month Club.

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