useNature Magazine - the Weekly Column - Tips - Info's - Stories
Natural Alternatives to Pesticides and Fertilizers
Natural Alternatives to Pesticides and Fertilizers:
Growing Healthy and Thriving Produce Without Synthetics
Organic gardening can be a very refreshing hobby and pursuit. Although growing your own produce is not always the most economical means of feeding an individual or family, the economics of it are outweighed by the green ethic, as well as knowing exactly what has or has not gone into the end product that ends up on your dinner table or lunch sack. Added to it is the enjoyment and fulfillment that one can obtain by learning to cultivate and nurture the soil to produce not only some of the healthiest-looking crops, but also some of the most nourishing.
Growing organic fruits and vegetables takes effort and a little bit of study. Whereas spraying with ready-made store bought pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides can be a much easier method of controlling garden pests, and using commercial fertilizers to enhance the growth of your plants is a tried and true practice, the down side to this methodology is compromised nutritional value in your garden produce and the loss of organic integrity to your soil. In the long run, using chemical or synthetic fertilizers can actually deplete the soil in your garden, and pesticides and the like can remain as residue on your garden fruits and vegetables even after being washed. Many pesticides are known carcinogens.
Introduce natural predators
One of the most natural ways of dealing with uninvited guests in the garden (otherwise known as pests), is to introduce natural predators. We’re not talking about letting out the zoo animals here, but rather something more charming – the lady bug. The most common and destructive of all pests in the garden is the aphid. Lady bugs are quite effective at controlling aphids in the garden, and in fact can be had quite cheaply at many local nurseries or ordered online. Because lady bugs have been known to go A.W.O.L. from the garden upon their release, there are a few keys to keeping them as part of your garden ecosystem. To have a much better success rate at getting your new lady bugs accustomed to your garden plot, it is recommended that you release them into your garden after dark or before sunrise. That way they have time to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings instead of “flying the coop” immediately. You can also cool them off a bit in the fridge before you release them to slow down their instincts. Watering your garden just previous to their release is also an additional way of getting your little helper insects to stay put, as they will “stick around” more easily and have moisture as well to drink.
In terms of making your soil fertile and hospitable to the types of plants you will be growing, it can be fun and engaging to learn how to make your own fertilizer, organically of course. Much healthier, more sustainable, and even less expensive than commercial applications is a concoction that can be had by collecting the several ingredients of an organic fertilizer “recipe” made up of seed meal, agricultural lime, gypsum, dolomitic lime, bone meal, bat guano, and kelp meal. By cultivating the soil in this manner, you’ll receive rave reviews by envious neighbors of how prosperous your garden residents (your plants and the vegetables they produce) have become. You’ll be able to take a shortcut to becoming a true green thumb, and nobody will be the wiser for it should you choose to keep it a secret.
Making the switch from a “synthetic” gardener to organic gardener is enlightening for all of the things you will be able to learn in cooperating with the earth and it’s byproducts instead of trying to unnaturally enhance it. Coupled with it is the added peace of mind that you get from knowing that your produce is minus any harmful substances, and that the soil you have cultivated will continue to give and give as you simply maintain it with what it really needs to thrive.
Nedra Batey is an outdoor and gardening enthusiast, and also writes regularly for the all-natural latex mattress manufacturer, Plushbeds.com.
Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.