A Gardener’s Favorite Recipes – Organic Pest Control Concoctions

Every gardener dreams to make his garden pest-free and weed-free. There is possibility that you can achieve this via effective organic pest control. Does this mean that you no longer have to spend a lot of money on commercial pesticides? This is attainable if you are able to create the natural pest control product in the confines of your home.
Organic pest control can be made within your own capabilities. You just have to factor out if you can bear the smell, fumes and heat of your product. If you create one with a very strong scent, you will repel the insects. You then can depend on some natural pest control materials like fish, garlic, tobacco and other foul smelling objects as ingredient. Some plants can be depended upon to kill unfavorable insects with their scent. Plants can expel scented oil; example is mint.
organic pest control
Here are some recipes for your organic pest control that make use of some materials from your kitchen pantry.

Organic pest control recipe No.1 – use of garlic

You can make organic pest control pesticide with garlic as main ingredient. Here are two recipes.
• The recipe calls for 3 to 4 ounces of garlic bulbs. Chop these then soak them in one day in 2 tablespoons of mineral oil. Mix into the garlic liquid a tablespoon of fish emulsion which has been dissolved in a pint of water. Strain the mixture then dilute in water in a 1:20 proportion, 1 part garlic solution to 20 parts water. This organic pesticide solution is good in eliminating aphids and flies.
• This second recipe calls for 1 head garlic, 1 tablespoon bleach-less dish soap, 2 tablespoons mineral or vegetable oil and 2 cups water. For the procedure, peel the garlic first. Puree together the garlic, oil and water. Set the mixture overnight before you strain it. Add the soap to the garlic mixture, mix thoroughly, pour in a bottle then spray on the pests.

Recipe No. 2 – use of hot peppers

You will make use of hot peppers for another two recipes. Remember that the hotter the pepper, the better is your resulting organic pest control spray.
• The ingredients are 2 cups water, 2 tablespoon dish soap and ½ cup chopped hot peppers. With water, puree the peppers then let the pureed peppers sit overnight. Strain the pureed pepper, mix in the soap then shake well. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and use.
• In 1 quart water, mix two tablespoons hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper and a few drops of liquid ivory soap. Let the mixture sit overnight, shake well and pour the mixture in a spray bottle and use as needed.

Recipe No. 3 – use of vegetable or mineral oil

Here are additional two recipes using vegetable or mineral oil. These natural pest control recipes are suitable in killing soft-bodied insects like mites, mealy bugs and aphids. The solution will suffocate the insects.
• In a quart of water, mix one tablespoon canola oil and a few drops of liquid ivory soap, Shake and pour in spray bottle. Spray up and above the plant and also under the leaves.
• Combine 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon bleach-less dish soap and 2 quarts of water. Combine all the ingredients, pour in a spray bottle and use to kill the bugs.
There are other useable ingredients for your organic pest control repellent like onion and salt. You can also make use of milk as fungicide. You have to use these pesticides only on affected plants and never on healthy ones otherwise you can cause damage on the plants you aim to protect.

Everyday Salad with Easy to Grow Vegetables

Does a plant need a “green thumb” individual to make it grow? That is just a belief which is not always true because anyone can farm easy to grow vegetables as long as tender loving care is given to the plant. Some plant lovers even talk and sing to the plants. Caring is easy because it only involves rich soil, sufficient sunlight and enough water. In addition, ensure that no pests destroy them.
easy to grow vegetables
If you are a novice or a beginner in gardening veggies, you should start with easy to grow vegetables that would require little time and effort. There are some kinds of veggies that are suitable to beginning gardeners. And the best thing in this is that the easy to grow vegetables consist of veggies that you can have for everyday salads. You do not need to go to the supermarket to buy your salad greens, tomatoes and cucumbers. You can grow them in your backyard albeit you are not one with “green thumb”.

Lettuce and other salad greens are easy to grow vegetables.

To start a regular supply of fresh salad greens, consider planting and nurturing nutrient-rich lettuce. These leafy greens are very easy to grow and they can flourish in great abundance. As they require small space, they can be planted in containers, raised beds and backyard row gardens. You can choose from different varieties like Oak leaf, Romaine, Iceberg, Butterhead and Asparagus lettuce. Since these leafy greens are vegetables that grow fast and easily, you can harvest them every three weeks and will ensure that your table will always have a steady supply of salad every day.

Growing tomatoes for your daily salad

Tomatoes have many uses in cooking and are great ingredients for salads. They are easy to grow vegetables that can thrive in any size of garden and in any medium. You can grow them in containers, pots or even hanging baskets. What is required though is sufficient sunlight. The best varieties that go with lettuce for salads are the cherry tomatoes.
You can grow more tomatoes in a cage but they require less of your time and effort when they are grown in lesser quantity. Smallest work is needed when you plant the hybrid patio varieties. Maintenance of the plant is not very strict because forgetting to water them for a day would not affect the growth so much. In fact, some tomato growers’ tip is to make them taste better with less water.

Cucumbers are among the easiest to grow at the backyard.

Another vegetable in your everyday salad is cucumber. It may not come to your mind that this is one of the easy to grow vegetables at home. They can be grown using vertical gardening in your tiny space thus making them readily available for your everyday salad. They grow abundantly so when you pick the fruits, you can store them in the refrigerator’s vegetable chiller and use them for other purposes aside from being an ingredient in your everyday salad. Freshly cut, they can be a beauty product where they help eliminate eye bags.
Aside from lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, there are more other easy to grow vegetables especially root crops like carrots, turnips and radishes. The salad vegetables as well as these root crops can be planted early in spring and they are abundant until fall season. Why not try growing green beans and zucchini too? They can also be among the easy vegetables to grow in your garden. Gaining expertise in the cultivation of these vegetables, how about growing them in commercial quantity?

Garden Soil pH – Acid and Alkaline Effect on Plants

Your gardening experiences tell that it is not easy to maintain a garden. There are factors affecting the growth and well-being of plants. Among them are right location, the amount of sunlight, the type of soil and more other factors that determine the growing capability of your plants. Some gardeners overlook or are not aware of the big influence of soil pH on garden soil.garden soil
What is garden soil pH?
The soil pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline is the garden soil. The range of pH is based on a 1 to 14 scale where the soil is acidic if the pH is less than 7 and it is alkaline when the pH is greater than 7. A measure of 7 indicates that the soil is neutral, neither alkaline nor acidic.
You have to know the pH of your soil because this will tell you what plant is suitable to your garden soil. The pH affects the level of nutrients in the soil thus it affects the health of growing plant. Plants need nitrogen and phosphorous. If the soil has a pH of 5.5, nitrogen is available in the soil. When the pH is between 6 and 7, phosphorous is available. The best pH reading of the soil is 6 to 7 because this is the type of soil that has the needed nutrients. Lacking in the needed nutrients, the plant will be susceptible to diseases.

How to find the pH of garden soil

Finding the pH level of soil is not a problem for gardeners as test kits are available in most garden shops. The kit consists of a test tube or a small container, testing solution and color chart. A sample of the soil is placed on the test tube or container, a few drops of the testing solution is added. The mixture is shaken to produce color that has to be compared to the provided color chart.
There are plants that grow well in alkaline soil and there are those that thrive best when planted in acidic soil. If you already have chosen a plant whose growth does not conform to the pH of your soil, you can still remedy your situation. You can change the pH of the soil.

Increasing the soil’s pH

If your soil is acidic and you need to make it alkaline for your chosen plant, make it alkaline by increasing the soil’s pH. What you have to do is simply add a form of lime, a compound consisting of calcium and magnesium. The required kind of lime may be agricultural limestone, hydrated lime or burnt lime. If the particles of your lime are small, the soil will quickly increase in pH thus making it alkaline. Since hydrated lime is the smallest particles and is easy to dissolve in water, it has a quicker effect. It can easily permeate into the acidic soil to make it alkaline. You have to know that the conversion from acidic to alkaline does not occur overnight. Making the soil turn alkaline will require 2 to 3 months.

Decreasing the soil’s pH

A lot of ornamental and fruit-bearing plants thrive better in acidic soil. This means that your soil must have a pH of less than 7. Decreasing the garden soil’s pH makes it acidic and suitable for these types of plants. Making your soil acidic is adding aluminum sulfate or sulfur. Aluminum sulfate reacts faster. Soon as it is dissolved and applied to the soil, the pH of the soil goes down to become acidic. However, the drawback is that the acidity is not long lasting so you will be required to reapply ammonium sulfate.
Although ammonium sulfate reacts faster, sulfur is better recommended. Sulfur makes the soil acidic through the help of the bacteria in the earth. The length of conversion time is longer and the length of time depends on the presence of bacteria, soil texture and moisture.
In deciding to start a garden, your first step is to determine the pH of the garden soil. This will let you know the suitability of the plant you intend to grow. Even if not suitable, you can change an acid soil into alkaline soil or vice versa through application of lime, ammonium sulfate or sulfur, depending on the desired conversion.

Identifying the Different Benefits in the Use of Organic Soil

A remarkable number of gardeners had switched to organic farming. Many agricultural farmlands had been certified as organic and their products are planted on organic soil. Using all-organic agricultural inputs, the harvests are organic foods that are too beneficial to the health of people consuming them.
organic soil
In several surveys, it had been disclosed that there is an increase in the number of gardeners using natural soil additives. Even backyard gardening had turned organic. Recycling is encouraged and the wastes that would otherwise go to landfills are converted into organic fertilizers in the form of compost. Even garden centers now sell organic composts and organically-amended soil for immediate use. The readily available commercial products are bought despite the high price because of the long wait in making one’s own compost.
The long wait in composting and the expensive cost of commercial organic compost are disadvantages in the use of organic farming land. But come to think of it, why do people still switch to organic gardening? The reasons are based on the benefits derived from natural products of plants planted in a soil that was made organic.

The organic soil is nutrient-rich.

Organic land promotes successful farming and good products. This is because the soil is nutrient-rich. It contains the necessary NPK nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Natural soil has carbon from the green components of the compost and this is a big factor in the growth of gardening-friendly micro-organisms. The organic matter in the soil, as contributed by the compost, prevents plant diseases.
Because of the additives to make the soil organic, soil particles are bound together thus inducing water or moisture retention. This is very beneficial if the structure of the soil is sandy. The compost makes the soil more compact. If the soil is clay-like, the compost can loosen the particles to allow the nutrients to flow and be properly distributed.
Contrary to the effect of chemical fertilizer, the organic composition of the soil does not burn the roots of the plant. The roots are able to penetrate the soil to siphon necessary nutrients. The release of nutrients is slow, just as needed by the plant.

Reducing soil contamination

Another big benefit is attributed to the absence of toxic substances that brings the harmful effects of chemicals. When compost or organic fertilizer is added, the soil is free from pesticide and chemical fertilizer contamination. Furthermore, the organic kind of soil eliminates contamination to any preservatives. The soil is now able to neutralize the effects of hydrocarbons and heating fuels.

Growing healthy food

The use of organic soil produces healthier food which enables men to have a healthier diet. In comparing healthiness of vegetables, a study was found in tomatoes raised in natural soil and inorganic soil. The antioxidant, flavonoid, in the organically grown tomatoes is twice those that are planted in the conventional soil. More antioxidants are beneficial in cancer prevention. Furthermore, there are no chemical fertilizer and pesticide residues on foods grown on the amended soil.
The benefits in the use of organic soil had been reported and they are amazing. The cost of organic fruits, vegetables and other products may be a bit pricey today but with the awareness of farmers on the benefits from organic agriculture, you can expect the price to go down. The supply of organic agricultural products can go up, a factor for downtrend in price.

What Must You Include in a Good Organic Soil Mix

Although, hydroponic farming is already being implemented, the traditional way of planting crops on soil is still the main method in growing plants. What may have changed is the amendment done on the earth to become a kind of organic soil. The use of the amended soil will result to a natural way of producing agricultural products that are chemical-free.
organic soil
The ground that we have today is composed of ordinary soil that may not be considered organic. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides had been used into it in the past. However, you can make a drastic change when you want to switch to organic farming. You can turn this into organic soil through the use of the right organic mix. The best mix to add consists of compost, manure, rock dust and mulch.

Adding compost to make organic soil

Every time you hear about organic gardening additive, the first thing that would be considered as component of an organic soil mix is compost. The use of compost materials is the cheapest way to fertilize and enrich your ordinary soil. The compost is a part of organic farming as the materials used are all natural. You can make your own compost or you can buy a bag or truckload of it.
Ordinary people have ordinary ways to make their compost. They simply gather all their kitchen and garden refuse and dump them in a hole dug in the ground. Then they cover the hole with the excavated ground and just let the refuse to rot underneath. You will find earthworms coming out later that signify that your compost is almost ready.
The real technique is as follows. You prepare a compost bin, either made of untreated lumber or concrete blocks. You layer this with plant wastes such as dried leaves, stems, twigs and grass clippings. You can also add sawdust, wood chips and kitchen refuse such as fruit and vegetable peels. If manure of grass-fed animals is available, you can include them in the compost. Cover the bin and let everything thrown therein to rot. Keep the compost moist by sprinkling little water from time to time. This is ready to use in 2 to 12 months.

An organic mix with manure

Animal or livestock manure is a part of the organic mix. Ensure that the manure comes from grass-fed livestock. This is the source of nitrogen, an essential nutrient that had been present in the commercial chemical fertilizers. Aside from animal manure, you can also have in the organic soil mix some green manure which also supplies nitrogen nutrient to the soil. Your green manure will consist of plant crops like oats, lupins and vetch plants.

Adding rock dusts and mulch

The organic soil must contain good amount of phosphorus. To have this nutrient, re-mineralization is the technique. You do this through the use of rock dusts to stabilize the phosphorus in the soil. The rock dust can be added to the mix by making it a part of the compost. You use the rock dust as layering in the compost. However, you can also add the rock dusts directly into the earth. It is imperative that the rock dusts are very small and fine particles.
Mulch is another important component of organic soil mix. Mulch is composed of materials laid on the surface of the ground to serve as covering. It prevents weed growth and it prevents fruit rot. This is an important component of the organic mix because it keeps the soil moist and it preserves the nutrients. After the plants are harvested, the mulch can be left where it is and would ultimately turn into soil.
If you are one kind of organic gardener who does not have time to create an organic soil mix, you can opt for the commercial organic fertilizers that are available in most gardening depots. This makes your task easier however you have to bear with the high cost of a ready-made commercial organic fertilizer.

Upgrading Garden Soil – Organic Compost or Chemical Fertilizer

When buying fertilizer for plant use, you will be confronted with many kinds. Those are just labels because soil enhancers can just be grouped into two – organic and chemical. What you had been familiar with is the traditional fertilizer that is chemically laden. Today, many gardeners give preference to organic compost which can be made at home or bought in gardening shops.
organic compost
Some may not be familiar yet with organic fertilizers although the use of this kind had been going on for several decades. As the name implies, this is devoid of any chemical constituent thus making it less harmful or offensive. Chemical fertilizer is not totally eliminated because not all agricultural produce are organic.

Making a choice – organic compost or chemical fertilizer?

People who are afraid of the effects of chemicals in their health had been patronizing the organic products albeit these are more expensive. Does this mean that the natural compost used in the growing of the vegetables and fruits cost more? Absolutely not, some kinds of natural compost are even cheaper.
If you will conduct a survey on whether organic compost is preferred over chemical fertilizer, if is very likely that you will get differing opinions. If plants are able to respond, surely they will not be able to pinpoint the difference. If you are the consumer, you may not also be able to find the organically raised veggies from the shelf if they are not labeled as such. This is because, the products look the same. Even so, there are a number of pros and cons for each fertilizer type.

Organic fertilizer – pros and cons

Organic compost is natural fertilizer. This is made from organic materials such as plants and animal manure, wastes and other materials that would otherwise go to the landfills. Some brands merely label this as soil conditioner or soil enhancer and not soil fertilizer. Organic composts today can be processed in factories or they can be produced in farms. It can also be made at home in a small scale use.
Organic compost boasts of its biggest advantage which is less risk to toxins that are present in chemicals. It enhances the soil by supplying the ground with the necessary nutrients for plant growth. It is renewable, biodegradable and sustainable. It is environment friendly since it does not produce toxic substances. Furthermore, it reduces the need for landfills as wastes are made into natural compost.
The biggest disadvantage of organic or natural compost is the long wait before it becomes available to use. The materials had to break down naturally such that nutrients are not released instantly or in a short period of time. The exact percentage of nutrients is not accurate and in most cases is lower than the chemical fertilizer. It is the micro-organisms that are responsible to break down and release the nutrients and this is the reason for the slow processing.

Chemical fertilizer – pros and cons

Contrary to the natural organic compost, the chemical fertilizers are said to be artificial, synthetic or inorganic. The source of materials is petroleum products, rocks and some organic sources. The nutrients are refined and in specific ratios.
The big advantage of the chemical fertilizer is the immediate availability such that plant growth or improvement is fast. The effect is measured as the ratio or proportions of the nutrients are exact. The label in the bag or pack is standardized so you can easily evaluate its nutrient content.
The major disadvantage is in the presence of toxic substances that can be harmful to human health. This kind of fertilizer is non-renewable and it contains fossil fuels. This fertilizer can grow the plants but are not retained in the soil such that you cannot expect soil health from it. Since the nutrients are easily available for plant use, there is a tendency for over fertilization. This fertilizer has the tendency to leach so it can go far from the plant necessitating reapplication. Its continuous use for a long period can adversely affect the pH level of the soil.
As for the price, you cannot say which is more expensive. If commercially produced, the cost of organic compost is higher. But this can go inexpensive or even cost-free if it is personally made by the user.