I have a few friends in my BSF class that have recently started gardens or plan to, and ask me questions all the time! It thrills me! I love it when I can inspire someone to grow their own vegetables! I always point them to my blog. Yesterday the conversation was about bugs and fertilizers. So, today I think I will share a few of the organic things I do in the garden to keep the bugs and critters away and make my garden grow, grow, grow!
Last year something that worked well for me was a hot pepper spray. Since I had an abundance of habanero's and serrano's from 2 years ago I have plenty to make hot pepper spray. Last year I only used the peppers, water, a little veg oil and a little Peppermint pure soap.
It worked very well at keeping the flea beetles from destroying my potatoes and helped with the bean beetles as well.
This year I added a bulb of garlic to the mix. I pureed the peppers, garlic and a little water. Then I strained it, added it to the bottle and added a few drops of oil and soap. I sprayed EVERYTHING. I am hoping it will also deter the bunnies or whatever is eating my vegetables and fruits. I saved the pulp and added more water to let it soak for another bottle for later...peppers do get hotter after marinading for a bit!
Any kind of fencing or bird netting helps keep some of the critters out too! I plan to put bird net over my corn when I start it to keep the birds, deer and bunnies out!
From time to time I also use some diatamceous earth sprinkled around the garden for those little slugs and a few other pests. And of course squishing or a bucket of soapy water works too! Watch out for those eggs on the underside of leaves, especially squash! Destroy them!
Another good thing to use is BT (AKA thuricide, dipel, and a few other brand names). This is a live microorganism good for killing worms, tomato worms, plant eating caterpillars, mosquito larvae, and more. Still, use sparingly, some people can have allergic reactions to it.
I also try to spread things out around the garden like onions and carrots to keep soil pests from hopping from one veg to the next, destroying all of them.
Now, as for fertilizers...
- I usually start off with a good amount of composted manure worked into the soil! Great sources for this are farms or try the zoo! Don't get the cheap stuff at the store, it is cheap!
- Throughout the season I also use a few things like Fish Emulsion, though if you are a fisher, throw all those heads and guts in a hole in the garden and it works wonders as well! My grandparents do this for their garden, they fish a lot!
- Some others might be bone or blood meal. I have also found that blood meal sprinkled around the garden deters the bunnies as well. Has to be reapplied after a rain.
- One of my other favorites is epsom salt spray (1 or 2 tbs in a bottle of water) on the tomato and pepper plants as they are blossoming. This seems to make a good difference in production and end rot, in my opinion.
- You can also spread your grass clippings around your garden to let decompose into the soil. Good mulch and compost.
- I have a pitiful compost pile, but many do quite well with a compost bin for their garden! Or simply bury your scraps in the garden from time to time.
If you have any helpful organic tips, my friends and I would certainly love to hear them!
I also recommend my Kentucky gardening friends to print or pick up at the local cooperative extension this Home Vegetable Gardening Guide. It has a lot of useful local information and planting charts!