Protecting Against Weeds and Pests
Though fertilizers are part of the organic process, most people have to battle against weeds and pests more than anything else. This is where your organic techniques are most important.
Insects are the most visible problem since you can immediately see them and the destruction they cause. They will eat your plants leaves, lay eggs in the stems and dig holes in your fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, insects are not the only pests that will plague your garden. Add in a long list of possible bacteria and fungus that can (and will) infest your plants, as well as all the birds, squirrels and rabbits in the neighborhood. There are many things to protect against, to say the least.
Weeds are less destructive but too many of them will rob your plants of space, sunlight, water and soil nutrients. If you want an abundant harvest, weeds need to be kept under control.
So, with these two adversaries in mind, remember your organic principles. There are many ways to win out without resorting to toxins or poisons.
Insect sprays made with pyrethrum are very powerful and will kill off bugs just as well as more toxic products. Pyrethrum is extracted from the chrysanthemum and is perfectly natural. These sprays don’t have quite the same staying power as other products, so you just have so spray a little more often.
Save a little money with some home-made insect sprays too, if you want to be more do-it-yourself. Crush up 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, and mix with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of natural dish soap and about a quart of water. Shake it all up, and give your plants a heavy spritz every couple of days (more often after a rain). Add in some hot pepper sauce and this type of spray will also help deter rabbits and even deer.
A good fence around your garden is also a good idea if you are constantly fighting with larger animals rather than just insects. Just remember that raccoons can climb just about anything, and both rabbits and deer will jump higher than an average fence.
For weeds, you can easily block them out without sprays with a heavy layer of mulch. Once your own plants are large enough to work around, add a layer of straw, wood chips, shredded newspapers or even pieces of carpeting. This will keep the weeds from coming up while still allowing rainwater to get down to the soil. And of course, nothing beats the old-fashioned practice of just getting out in the garden and pulling up the weeds by hand.
And if you do like doing things by hand, you can take that approach with your bug problems too. Visit your garden at least daily, and just pick off the offending insects as you see them. That can make a good dent in your pest population and will require no extra products at all. It doesn’t get more organic than that.