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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bug–Off Bugs! Gardening without Pesticides

Whether you think bugs are icky or cool, they are total pests when they eat our plants. Most of the food you buy at the supermarket is grown using pesticides to keep bugs at bay. Pesticides are chemicals that kill insects, weeds, rodents, fungi and other creatures. But there are many helpful creatures that we want to keep around because they pollinate flowers, eat the pests that damage crops, help recycle nutrients by eating dead plants and animals, and aerate the soil by digging and burrowing. Pesticides are also very toxic for your health. Luckily there are ways to scare off pests without hurting yourself or the environment.

Here’s what you can do:
–Clear your garden of weeds and dead plants, which are breeding grounds for insects.
–Plant a variety of vegetables and rotate your crops every year. Pests are often attracted to specific plants, so when planting is mixed pests are less likely to spread throughout a crop.
–Water your garden early in the day so that plants are dry for most of the day. Wet foliage encourages insects and fungus.
–Attract beneficial pest–eating bugs to your garden buy planting flowers such as cosmos, sunflowers, sweet alyssum, corn cockle and marigolds. Marigolds also have a strong stench that deters pests.
–Plant an herb garden. Some good pest–warriors are coriander, dill, caraway chervil, fennel, and parsley.

And when all else fails, you can concoct your very own homemade bug spray. Here’s the recipe:
– Mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap with one cup of vegetable oil.
– When you are ready to spray, combine one or two teaspoons of the mixture with a cup of water in a spray bottle and shake well.
– Spray the infected plants, but be cautious not to spray when the weather is too hot, as vegetable oil can burn plants in hot weather.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of flowers to attract the bugs which attack the veg! A pretty veg garden cannot be beaten!