Saturday, September 19, 2009

Organic Pest Control

We had a great morning in the garden today as the rain has held off for the first time this week. So we mixed in manure to our beds where we will be planting corn and potatoes in a couple of days. I also added 2 bags of manure to each compost pile which helps in the decompostion of the materials.

Then we gave the chicken coop a deep clean and replaced the straw in their tyres.

We also dug up the last of the winter potatoes and have enough for two meals.

All the beans and corn I planted 14 days ago have sprouted nicely. I like to protect my seedlings from pests in a natural way.

Around the corn I sprinkle crushed eggshells. This stops snails getting to them. We don't have any snails anymore, thanks to the chickens, so I don't have a photo of that for you.

For my beans and squash (and any other stemmed veggie) I cut an empty toilet roll in half and gently push it into the soil around the stem. This stops cutworm from munching through the baby plant. If I find any cutworms in my compost they go to the chickens who see them as fine dining.

My cauliflowers are coming on beautifully, I wish I had planted more! A couple of days ago I saw the caterpillars of the White Cabbage Moth on the leaves so I sprayed them with an eco-friendly solution. No more caterpillars!

The spray is:

5 liters of water
250 ml vinegar
1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid

Spray it on the leaves. This spray is useful for any caterpillars and any plant. You can also use it on mildew infected leaves.

Then while this is a bit of a distasteful topic I thought I would mention it. In Dec 2008 a family/ies of rats moved in somewhere in our garden. We have slowly been eliminating them with traps...we think we have the last came scuttling out of the compost heap 2 weeks ago when we cleared the compost into bags.

People have asked, why don't you just leave RATEX out for them...well simply, we have owls in our area and Ratex moves down the foodchain and even the decomposing body of the rat will leech the poison into the soil.

So we got some eco-friendly bait and 3 traps and set them for the blighters. Last year they ate all our broccoli and I had become rather scared for my chickens as the rat would burrow into their coop at night.

But it's now been a week since we set the last trap and there are no new tunnels, so let's hope that is the end of the family!


Linnie said...

Hi Wendy,
I have a question, please.
Over the weekend Christo and CJ finished our first two raised beds. Since we only have clay soil, will it be OK to only use horse manure to plant in?

Wendy said...

Hi Linnie,

Wehn we lived in East London we had clay soil and my mom nearly broke her back trying to improve it.

At this is how they recommend you go about inmproving it:

"To improve your soil, you'll need to add six to eight inches of organic matter to the entire bed. You can add any organic matter you can get your hands on. Grass clippings (as long as they haven't been treated with chemicals), shredded leaves, rotted manure, and compost are all perfect choices. Spread your organic matter on top of the soil. Here's where the manual labor comes in. The organic matter needs to be mixed into the top six to twelve inches of soil. Digging it in and mixing it with a shovel is a great way to do this, as it moves a lot of earth without pulverizing the soil particles the way tilling can. However, if digging is just too hard on your back, using a tiller is a fine method.

When you're finished, your garden bed will be several inches higher than it was originally. It will settle some over the course of a season, but the soil structure will keep improving as microorganisms in the soil work to break down all of the organic matter you've added. The bed can be planted immediately, however. You'll be adding more organic matter on the top of the bed once or twice a year. This will continue the process of improving the soil's structure and offset any settling that happens."

All the best with your veggie garden,

Linnie said...

Thank you so much, Wendy! I appreciate the time and effort you've put in, in answering my question in so much detail. We will do so, CJ is 15years old and a strong young man, I don't need to do the hard work anymore!
Enjoy the first day of the planting season!

Sonja said...

Hi Wendy

I want to know if your chickens have all the freedom they want in your garden because mine seems to do a lot of damage to my beddings and plants and will even eat my vegetables.

cindy said...

Hi All
Have you heard of Diatomaceous Earth?
A fabulous product that is used as organic pest control, from fleas, ticks, ants, cockroaches, millipedes, aphids and so much is 100% organic and so easy to use, it is the best way to control pests, not just does it control pests, it helps with water retention in your potting soil and strengthens plants from the inside out! see