Part 3: Natural Weed and Pest Control

 

Once you have your garden bed built and have it planted, pretty immediately you will need to protect your plants from the competition of weeds and pests.

Shopping List

Neem Oil    $11.50

BT        $10.97

Spinosad    $17.95

Diatomaceous Earth    $10.99

Bird Netting    $8.48

4 posts    $2.57 each

_________________________

Total        About $65

Weeds: “Mother Earth hates to be naked!” I don’t know where I read that, but it stuck. Weeds will cover bare soil if you don’t cover it first.

MULCH is the answer to weeds.

Hay, leaves, straw, even grass clippings piled 3-six inches high around plants in your garden suppress weeds and protect plants from drying out.

*** Make a little space right around the stem to avoid fungus.

Living Mulch is another option: Plant white clover (a nitrogen fixer - it brings nitrogen from the air and puts in into your soil) all over the soil where your plants are not. It only grows six inches high and most veggies and herbs are taller.

We plant buckwheat in any bed we aren’t using because it is up in 30 days. Then, when we are ready to plant, we cut it down and leave it in place as mulch. We spread out places to plant with our hands and plant right into it.

Pathways: cover pathways with 20 year landscape paper and pile on pine straw.

Pests

Fencing: Deer, rabbits, squirrels, all think your garden was planted for them!

Bird netting is the cheapest, quickest option. I also like that you can’t see it from a distance and it is easy to take down if you need to move your garden.

Other options: electric fencing, double fencing (deer won’t jump twice)

If fences are not double or close together (one row of bird netting around a 4/8 ft garden is fine) they must be 8 feet tall to deter deer.

Bugs: Here is our defense line:

Strong Soil: The Complete organic fertilizer gives our plants strong soil, which grows plants strong enough to withstand some attack by pests.

Rotate what we plant where: We move plant families each season. I follow this very simple rotation wheel. Leaf, Fruit, Legume, Root

Floating Row Covers: There are just a few things that we cannot keep pests off of with our regime. Squash and zucchini are just about impossible without row covers. We put these over the rows until they flower and then remove them. At this points, we get a good crop before the bugs win. These are the ones we use.

Neem Oil: I spray this constantly. No harm to humans or any other living things. It comes from a tree in India. Bugs don’t like the smell and it also helps with fungal growth.

Diatomaceous Earth: is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (such as bed bugs, ants or fleas) it compromises their waxy coating so that their innards turn into teeny tiny bug jerky. But it doesn't hurt mammals. We can eat it. I sprinkle this stuff all over my beds right after I plant.

Interplant - mix plants up. Add marigolds or herbs that have a strong smell

Use Sparingly During Heaviest Pressure Months (June-August)

BT: Biological agent that worms eat and it kills them. Some worry about how this affects bees, so use it sparingly.

Spinosad: Biological agent that kills almost everything. Some concern for bees as well. Use sparingly.

Beer: Cheap Beer in a plastic container (I use my kids’ old applesauce containers) flush with the ground attracts and drowns slugs.

Garlic Spray - Johnny Wray of High Hope farm suggested this one to us for squash bugs and we love it!

What You'll Need:

  • Three to four cloves of garlic

  • Mineral oil

  • Strainer or cheesecloth

  • Liquid dish soap

  • Water

  • Spray bottle