People are starting to realize just how harmful chemicals are to our bodies and our environment. When pesticides and other chemicals were first being used in farming and home gardens, people sang their praises. But after years of use, we are seeing the negative side effects of using too many chemicals. This is not to say that all chemicals and pesticides are bad, they have their place when necessary. However, sole dependence on chemical pesticides and overuse of these products have created soils that cannot sustain crops. Also, many of these chemicals leach into our water supply and the food we eat, creating a multitude of health problems.
So what can the home gardener do to combat the effects of chemicals in the yard? There are several things. First of all, you can make the decision to use organic products in your garden. You can do this slowly or all at once. Many gardeners use organic products in most of their yard work, but chemicals for the really tough weed and pest issues. You will find that over time, you will rely less and less on the chemicals as your organic methods take control of insects and weeds.
One of the easiest ways to begin organic pest control is to introduce beneficial insects into your garden. Insects like ladybugs, praying mantis, and parasitic wasps are beneficial to the yard because they feed on the bad bugs. Ladybugs find aphids delicious and parasitic wasps lay their eggs on the backs of the tomato hornworm; then the hatching larvae eat the worm. These beneficial insects used to be found naturally in most gardens, however, pesticides that are used to get rid of harmful insects also kill and drive away the good ones. If you put beneficial insects in your garden, make sure you don’t use chemical pesticides as well.
Another good method to keep away bugs is by using a simple solution of water and liquid dish soap. Simply put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray the leaves of your flowers and other foliage. The soapy mixture is a great aphid repellent, and it also keeps other bugs at bay.
For natural weed control, you will find that by using thick mulch around plants and trees will help. Bark or rock can be used, but keep in mind that bark is an organic material and it will break down over time so it will need to be replenished every year. Thick ground covers are also a good way to keep weeding to a minimum. Try to find plants that are native to your area and are not prone to overtaking the yard. Many times when you plant a ground cover, it tends to overgrow its boundaries. Planting your shrubs and flowers close together can also help to keep weed growth down. A plant that grows in an attractive, close-knit pattern and leaves little bare ground and light for weeds to germinate.
As you become more familiar with organic gardening methods, doing it the organic way will be easy. You don’t always have to use chemicals to grow a great garden, just do it the way nature intended.