In a recent post a reader asked several questions which I thought important enough to address in a post so everyone could benefit.
Question #1 -How Do You Care for Your Plants?
Basically the best way to care for your plants – and the way I care for mine — is by consistently adding organic material to the soil and keep it mulched.
Other than that:
I plant them. Mulch them. Watch them. Harvest what they give me. Pick bad bugs off if there are any. And that’s about it.
Question #2 – Do you ever use organic fertilizers?
As I mentioned in the post Gardening Keep it Simple Because It Is — for my first decade of gardening I thought I needed to add some blood meal, or bone meal or greensand —– the list was endless.
Then I thought I needed a wonderful organic fertilizer that the advertiser said would “promote vigor and stress resistance for salad greens, beans, melons, squash and all (my) garden vegetables.”
Now let me tell you what happened in real life:
I bought some of those fertilizers that first decade. It always seemed to me that the plants didn’t do as well with all that stuff.
The thing I wasn’t considering was that everything has to be in perfect balance for growth to be optimum. Nature can create the balance I need. I really don’t have to worry about it at all if I continue to add organic material AND mulch my soil.
A lot of people are big advocates of getting a soil test and then adding this and that to “make the soil right”. According to them, it is the only “educated” thing to do. And you certainly can do that if you want.
My philosophy is: Why should I do that when nature does it all for me? All I need do is my part by adding organic material and keeping the soil covered?
In late spring all my warm weather transplants sit there for a while taking root. Everybody else’s everything is up and growing quickly. My little plants look like I couldn’t possible know what I was doing.
Then all of sudden — they take off. And they keep going and going — and producing and producing way into the fall until finally they are killed by a hard freeze. Before that happens they’ve given me all the bounty I could ask for.
I might note here that I think it beneficial to use a foliar spray on my seedlings growing in pots and flats in the Spring. It’s a great way to tide them over until they get their roots into my rich organic soil.
Question #3 – Do you ever use manures from organically fed animals?
If I had access to manures that didn’t have residual herbicides I would load up on them.
The animals would not necessarily have to be fed an organic diet. Not all animal feed is genetically modified — and that would be my primary concern along with residual herbicides. The thing is — I don’t know how the genetically modified feed would effect the soil or my plants if the organisms remain in the manure. So to be on the safe side I’ll stay away from it until I know for sure.
If some manure comes along that I know is safe, I’ll nab it in a heart beat!
Question #4 – Do you ever use home-made Pesticides?
The recipes for home-made pesticides have appealed to me ever since I started gardening almost 34 years ago. In spite of that, I never make any.
If I raised Jalapeno peppers I would boil and/or steep a good amount of them and make a spray for any particularly bad infestations of squash bugs, Colorado Potato Beetle, or cucumber beetle. I’ve read of great success with this, although it has to be applied a few times. One of these days I’ll grow Jalapenos just to try the spray.
Question #4 – Other organic pesticides?
As you may or may not be aware — just because a pesticide is approved by the NOP (National Organic Program) or individual State Organic Programs for use in an organic garden does NOT mean that it’s safe for everything. Many of the organic pesticides kill the good bugs as well as the bad bugs.
I would be particularly concerned about the loss of any of my bees — especially since they are very much on the decline anyway — and are crucial to a successful garden.
More About the “Organic” Pesticides I Use
EscarGo but not EscarGo Supreme
If you are a regular reader you know I use Escar Go from Gardens Alive at least once a year and sometimes twice a year in places I’m having a lot of slug trouble.
Iron phosphate (the ingredient) is considered very safe, but I still don’t want to apply too much of it to my garden beds.
Two kinds of EscarGo are offered now. Garden’s Alive did not explain the difference in the “original” EscarGo and the New Supreme EscarGo in their literature.
I did find out that the Escargo Supreme has spinosad which I don’t want to use in my gardens since it is highly toxic to bees. Maybe in this form there would be little opportunity for the bees to be harmed by it. Nonetheless, my bees are too important to chance it.
I have and do from time to time use Pyola. But it’s not often.
Pyola is lethal to bees (and other beneficials) when wet. If your bees go home at night you could spray late without damage since after it dries it is safe for them. But my bees stay around the garden and sleep on the plants sometimes very late, so I have to be extremely careful.
Supposedly it kills the adults of the squash bug and the Colorado Potato Beetle. I will agree that it kills the nymphs but I personally have found it not particularly effective on the adult versions of these two garden nemesis.
Another reason I don’t use it very much is because I have found it just as fast to put gloves on and kill the adults, nymphs and take the eggs off as I go along. (And I don’t worry about messing up the leave.)
Getting the pyola, measuring, getting the sprayer, filling it, taking it to the garden and then going back for a refill is just more trouble than its worth in most cases. I find it easier and faster to hand kill.
Bottom Line –
Gardening is pretty simple. So read all the hype with a cautious eye and know for sure if you keep adding organic material and covering your soil you’re going to have a great garden. And yes – without adding anything else.
Organic Gardening – How Near or How Far Away
Gardening Keep It Simple Because It is
Organic Gardening – A Simple Concept
Organic Gardening is easy, effective, efficient —– and it’s a lot healthier too.
All content including photos are copyright by TendingMyGarden.com
Thanks I just love your blog, it makes me so hopeful and Im always forwarding things to my Mom who is an avid gardener, too. My biggest supply of organic matter is grass clippings- I got a bagger mower just for it. I’ve been putting in it a fenced area, but am not good about turning it all. Do you think that would put too much nitrogen or something in my plants or is it basically it’s organic, it’s good? Thanks again!
Glad you are benefiting from TendingMyGarden, Alicia. I think a lot more people would garden if they realized how easy things are!
Grass clippings are an excellent source of organic material and thus organic matter.
The only time you would have to be concerned is IF you turned in “green” clippings into the soil around your plants. THEN they would TAKE nitrogen to decay and might take nitrogen from your plants. If you lay them on top as mulch you really need not be concerned. And of course, once they decay you need not be concerned. It’s just more organic matter then.
As you already know it would be good to turn your pile because piles of fresh grass clippings can get slimy in the middle. But — if you leave it long enough they all end up as organic matter. So it really depends on what you can do. Also a larger area and more shallow pile might be an easy solution to not turning the pile.
A suggestion Alicia – think about raising a cover crop. Start with something easy like buckwheat. It is very quick growing and in many cases you can almost raise it “between” crops.
It would give you another easy source of organic matter for your garden beds.
Keep up the good work! Good hearing from you.
Thanks so much for the post. I love your common-sense approach to gardening. Sure do hope you get to publish that book one day!
Great piece. Thanks. It’s so nice to see your picture.
Gayle – you are welcome! Hope this answered your questions in more detail —– AND I’m not finished yet. I’ll do one more post based on your comments.
I thought about doing an e-book, but honestly — gardening is so simple without the hype —- what would I say??? 8)
Thanks for your encouragement and support!
Glad you enjoyed this post! And thanks for noticing the picture. Seems like I never have any pictures of me except ones from the back bent over in the garden. I hardly think they would do. 8)
So when the photographer at Bill’s most recent exhibit Oct. 29th snapped a picture of me I thought this might be the time to show readers that I really exist!
Thanks for reading Beppy!
Wonderful post. Thank you. It seems as if it just could’t be this easy but it absolutely is! I’ve tested your instruction and it works perfectly! It’s foolproof which is a good thing for me 🙂 I’m already looking forward to spring!
So am I Farming Bear! I’m already planning and have some of my seed. Can hardly wait!
Glad you enjoyed the post.
Thanks for the instructions. It is simple and easy to follow unlike the other blogs that I have seen out there. Very helpful in maintaining my garden.
Glad TMG has been helpful to you Irene. Thanks for letting me know.