More homeowners are choosing organic gardening techniques that work in harmony with nature. This paradigm shift demonstrates that the ecological benefits of natural gardening methods trump the need for pristine lawns and overfed flowers. Home gardeners might shy from these methods for fear of their labor-intensive implications. But the truth is, many require the same or less toil than filling a sprayer with a chemical-infused pest killer.
Natural Pest Control
Integrated pest management aims to reduce the need for chemicals by first understanding the pest's habits and habitat. Discover where the pest is coming from, and then seal off, relocate or destroy its home base. Learn what your garden contains that attracts bugs or ruminants, and you will consequently understand what it is that will repel them. Rely on traps, organic baits and nontoxic repellents, such as mineral oil or liquid soap. Larger ruminants, such as deer or rabbits, may be kept at bay with wire fencing. You can prevent many pest problems by planting only native plants in your gardens. Native plants are hardier, because they are naturally accustomed to the climatic and animal nuances of your region.
The most effective, Earth-friendly source of plant food comes from the Earth itself and the insects who roam within it. Nourish your garden with a balanced recipe of nitrogen and carbon produced from a rubbish heap of plant refuse and animal waste. Effective composting is an art form and entails more than merely tamping egg shells and carrot tops into some dirt. Learn which plants emit the most nitrogen and which emit carbon to create harmony in your compost heap. Build your compost pile close to or on the ground to give access to microorganisms, worms and insects that are vital to decomposition.
Natural Weed Killer
Seasonal mulching staves off not only drought but also weed growth. A number of materials already existing in your yard may be used as mulch, such as grass clippings, wood chips, rocks and dried leaves. Solarization, another effective technique in weed prevention, entails covering the soil with a layer of clear plastic. When the sun hits the plastic, the plastic heats the ground to the point of killing off weed shoots on the upper layer of soil. Remove the plastic just prior to planting.
According to Colorado State University's Extension Department, 50 percent of residential water is used for landscaping, and most plant diseases and deaths are caused by overwatering. Practice efficient irrigation by watering plants in the morning or evening when the air is cool and evaporation is slower. Cluster together plantings that share similar watering needs. Harvest rainwater by using a rain barrel and dispensing the contents to water plants.
- National Pesticide Information Center: Integrated Pest Management
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Green Landscaping: Greenacres
- Colorado State University: Wildlife Issues
- Colorado State University; Organic Pest Controls That Work in the Vegetable Garden; Bonnie Ennis; Jan. 5, 2010
- Colorado State University; Organic Materials as Nitrogen Fertilizers; K. A. Barbarick; May 12, 2010
Vanessa LaFaso Stolarski has 14 years experience in publishing and 17 years in the restaurant industry. She has served as food and wine editor for a Washington, D.C.-area newspaper company, and managing editor for "Northern Virginia" magazine. As founder of The Locavore Project-WV, she works with sustainable farms to promote consumer awareness and whole-food nutrition.
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