When I first learned about organic gardening I was quite thrilled about it. I was fascinated by the fact that there is a way that we can develop ways of farming and raising plants without the use of pesticides. See, I was raised in a farm and I saw how my grandfather’s health was broken because of poisoning from the pesticides that he used. That’s why I became really interested in the subject of farming methods that did not use any chemicals to control pests and insects.
Organic Gardening 101- In simple terms organic gardening is the method of raising and taking care of plants without having to use synthetic chemicals as fertilizers and pesticides. On a deeper level however, this form of gardening means understanding and utilizing nature’s own way of balancing and nourishing plants and animals. It tries to go back to the thinking that even plants in a garden are part of a larger system that can take care of itself.
History of Organic Gardening- Although some people perceive organic gardening as low tech, it is actually quite modern. Its origins can be traced to the beginning of the 20th Century when small groups of people started developing and using what would be the forerunner of modern organic farming techniques.(Before chemicals were discovered to be beneficial as fertilizers and pesticides, all farming and gardening methods were “organic”.) It gained importance however in the 50s and into 60s when the negative effects of the use of commercial pesticides became more apparent.
It was during this period when the illusion that all chemicals were beneficial was broken. This illusion was borne out of the innovations created in the Second World War when different types of chemicals were created. At that time the word chemical did not carry the same negative undertones that it now does. Instead it conveyed only positive things.Then came the realization that chemicals including DDT were harmful to those exposed to it. It can also poison the plants and the ground.
The Rise of Organic Gardening- Coinciding with the discoveries about the negative effects of chemicals used in pesticides there came out a magazine that advocated a return to more traditional ways of farming and gardening. This is the Organic Gardening Magazine by J.I. Rodale which is considered to be one of the most widely read gardening magazines in the world today. The increased awareness about organic gardening and farming has led to the push for laws and regulations regarding this method of raising plants. Each year the sale of organic crops is on the increase.
Weapons Against Pests in Organic Gardening- While raising plants using an organic system is well and okay there is one constant fear about it among people. How can organic gardeners fight off pests without resorting to chemicals? There are several methods that they use and here are some of them;
Keeping the Garden Clean- Making sure that your garden is clean is one of the first and the easiest ways that you can do to ensure that your garden stays bug free. If you are making your own compost then stay away from plant material that you know has bug infestation already. Make sure that you clean up dead material as the your plant grows so there is little venue for bugs and other parasites that feed on dead material to have a starting point.
The Right Method of Watering- Organic gardeners also use proper watering techniques in making sure that their garden stays bug free. They water less frequently but they do it deeply. How does that help? Watering frequently creates a humid environment around plants that can be very inviting to some insects and can encourage the growth of fungus and other parasitic organisms.
Soap Solution- You can use a soap and water solution to help control an attack of insects. The solution should be made from 40 parts water and one part soap of the non-detergent type. To be sure you can test on a few leaves first to see if it causes damage. After using it on the whole plant you can rinse it away.
Fungal Infection- One way to fight fungal infection is to use a solution that is based on baking soda. The solution should be made up of one quart water, one teaspoon baking soda and one teaspoon of non-detergent liquid soap. You can also use potato starch instead of baking, just double the amount that you use. You can spray this solution to the affected part of fungus infection. Not only that it can also help to keep fungus away.
Strongly Scented Plants- Harmful insects such as aphids dislike being near strongly scented plants. So ensure that you have these in your garden. Among the plants that you should have are chives, basil, catnip mint and yarrow. There are other herbs that can keep many insects away.
Snails and Slugs– These are pests mostly to garden vegetables like lettuce which they like to feed on. The easiest way to prevent them causing damage is to spread crushed egg shells around the plants that they like to hang around. The shells can cut their soft bodies. You might not like the idea of having egg shells lying around in your garden so you can just use a beer trap. For some reason slugs and snails cannot resist this liquor. Just fill a container with beer deep enough for the slug to sink in it. The idea is to have drown in it.
Caffeine Spray– Caffeine is a substance found in some plants that helps to deter insects. While we find it stimulating insects detest it. You can create an all natural caffeine spray by mixing used coffee grounds, any herbs that you have on your garden and some water. Just let it soak for a day and then strain it. You end up with a solution that you can use for weeks.
Beneficial Insects- I’m sure that you have probably heard of this method of fighting insects by organic gardeners. They encourage the growth of beneficial insects that helps control and prey on the pests. The problem with those who are just starting out with gardening is how on earth do they even know what the good insects are, let alone how can he encourage them?
1. Keeping the Garden Beautiful- Insects are attracted by flowering plants more so than humans. When they see that a garden is full of good looking plants they are going to be attracted to it right away. So one way to attract beneficial insects to your garden is by having plenty of gorgeous looking and attractive plants around your garden.
2. Identifying Species– If you are really serious about your organic gardening then you must learn how to identify the species that can help in your fight to keep harmful insects away from your garden. Spiders are mostly beneficial and should encouraged. The praying mantis is another insect that can help during any of its life stages.
3. Know the Right Insects that Fight the Pests –It also helps to know the particular species that can fight the kind of insect infestation that you have. For example if you are experiencing problems with leafhoppers then wasps are the best insects to fight them off. Wasps can be attracted by growing certain plants like dill, cilantro and parsley.