Posted on Leave a comment

Treat Your Garden Right with Organic Pesticides

butterfly-startachim

What gardener doesn’t want to rid his or her garden of all those nasty summertime pests? Yet to put chemical pesticides on plants that will ultimately grow produce the family will eat seems a bit wrong. That’s where gardeners have a break as there are several organic pesticides for use in the garden. These natural pesticides are safe and don’t damage the soil year after year.

Many organic pesticides come from plant sources, some of which produce pyrethrum, while others produce rotenone, ryania, or mineral-based pesticides. Mineral pesticides include cryolite, boric acid or diatomaceous earth—all of which are designed to kill plant-destructive insects in your garden.
Experts say that, while organic pesticides are distinctly safer than synthetic pesticides, users want to be careful when causing them. Gardeners shouldn’t use them with bare hands and they should realize that some organic pesticides can be as toxic as their non-organic counterparts. The least toxic products will say “Caution” on the label, more toxic products will say “Warning” and the most toxic products will say “Danger”.

These words, however, are not a signal of their potential for environmental harm.
Some organic pesticides are minimally toxic to humans but are very toxic to animals. Ryania, for example, is highly toxic to fish. Other organic pesticides kill even the most beneficial insects, such as the combination of pyrethrins and rotenone.
By law, all pesticides, including organic pesticides, must be used precisely according to the instructions on the label. Read the label before using an organic pesticide.
An important group of “organic” pesticides is the biopesticide group. This unique class of pesticides involves using biological organisms to control pests. In general, this type of organic pesticide acts slower than other organic pesticides and involves critical application times. Biopesticides reduce, rather than destroy, pest populations and they have a narrow target range with a specific mode of action. Biopesticides have a limited shelf life as they are live organisms.

There are two general types of organic biopesticides. They include biochemical and microbial-based organic biopesticides.
Biochemical pesticides include insect pheromones, odor-based chemicals that disrupt the insect mating cycle by interfering with the ability to find a mate. Pheromone-based traps can also be used to trap male insects, disrupting the mating cycle. Organic microbial biopesticides include those that come from genetically-changed fungi, viruses, protozoans, or bacteria.
This type of organic pesticide suppresses the pest population by secreting toxins specific to the insects, causing disease in the pest population, interfering with the establishment of pests through competition and other modes of action.

One type of organic biopesticide is the bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis, a soil-based bacterium that is toxic to several types of insect larvae but not to other things. This bacterium can be applied to plant foliage or incorporated into the genetic material of larger crops. It is toxic to the larvae of moths and butterflies. Other varieties are toxic to mosquitoes and black flies.
Gardening with organic pesticides is generally effective and healthier to the environment and the plants than synthetic pesticides and make a good alternative to using harmful chemicals in your garden.

Posted on Leave a comment

Choosing the Best Plants for your Garden

personal journals
English: Hydrangea macrophylla - Hortensia hyd...
English: Hydrangea macrophylla – Hortensia hydrangea, picture from Longwood Gardens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many times we buy plants on impulse then find there is nowhere in the garden that really suits them. Before buying plants carefully examine your garden to see how much sun and shade it gets, whether the soil is well drained or waterlogged and whether your aspect is sheltered or windswept. You’ll then be equipped to go and buy the best plants for your situation; shade-loving plants for the sheltered areas, sun-lovers for the warm spots, drought-resistant plants for the parched areas which may be either sunny or shaded, and swamp plants for the poorly-drained parts.

But wait! Test your soil first, to determine the pH level of your soil and what kind of nutrients you need to add, if any. Is the soil acid or alkaline? Most plants prefer soil that is slightly acidic, but there are some that must have alkaline soil to grow.  You can alter the soil’s pH level, but it’s much easier to simply plant for the soil you have.

Now you are ready to plant. Well – almost. Will you plant in groups or singly? If you buy ‘one of everything’ your garden may seem rather spotty. Group plantings are organised, harmonious and you can vary the color for interest.

Before planting out, place your chosen plants around the garden bed in their pots to see how they will look. Re-arrange them until you are satisfied. Grouping plants in sets of threes or fives usually looks better than planting in groups of even numbers. Be sure that you have an interesting combination of colors and textures of plants. Tall plants should go to the back, or the centre if your garden will be viewed equally from all sides. Try to keep your plants away from trees. The roots of trees are fiercely competitive and will steal all the nutrients and moisture meant for your flowers.

The right color scheme is one way to maintain the harmony in your garden. Imagine the color of the flowers when they are in bloom. Some colors may clash with others, but can still be planted side-by-side if they have a different blooming season. Foliage color is also important. Many flower plants have silver, grey or purplish foliage that is just as attractive as the flower. This means that they are still attractive well past the blooming season and so have added value.