It seems this years weather has been an improvement for everyone’s gardening efforts, rain interspersed with warm sunny days. Of course, most everyone’s gardens are planted and sprouting by now, and if you’ve fertilized with a synthetic fertilizer it’s a little late to have a completely organic crop. But, it’s never too late to start a more natural approach to fertilizers and pest control.


Here’s how to get started:


1.  Start by collecting your grass clippings (if you haven’t fertilized your lawn) and use them for mulch. The clippings make a great natural fertilizer, reduce the need for watering by holding in moisture and reduce weeding time. Or use other natural mulches like straw, compost or shredded leaves. A 3-7 inch layer right over the top of that young weed crop will be sufficient.


2.  To control weeds later in the season, first identify the weeds you need to control. If you learn to recognize the annuals from the perennials, you’ll know whether you can till them in (annuals) or must pull them out (perennials.)


3.  Preventing pests and diseases in the garden is always a challenge and where we all tend to get a little wild with synthetic chemicals. Once a pest or disease has reached epidemic proportions, it will be difficult to control, so get in the habit of checking your crops weekly for pests and diseases. Don’t worry if you find a few pests and don’t immediately go running for the pesticides. Start by picking them off, or blasting them off with a forceful stream of water. If pests or disease are limited to one plant or stem, prune away the infested part and destroy them along with the invaders.


4.  If you have Yucca growing in your garden, a one-inch cube of the root chopped and mixed in a blender with one cup of water is a great pesticide. Blend the Yucca root until it is a foamy soapy mix, strain with a mesh strainer, add one quart of water and strain again. Then pour it into your sprayer. This Yucca mixture can be used on apple trees and other fruit trees as well as vegetable plants. Or, before resorting to a chemical sprays try using some insecticidal soap. Know your pests before you buy insecticides as different pests need different treatments.


5.  If your pests are of the larger furry size, Mrs. Rabbit and her family, and the usual deterrents, (dog, fences) haven’t worked try some blood meal. Sprinkle the meal lightly in and around the young plants. Being vegetarians rabbits will not be inclined to nibble. Reapply after rain or watering.


Working your garden organically doesn’t mean more work. In fact if you follow these few simple guidelines it should be less work, more fun and great eating. Till next time, Rebecca