Healthy lawns and gardens do not necessarily look perfect. The environment around us is alive with plants, insects, fungi and other organisms that can be adversely affected by chemicals, including pesticides. If pest problems occur, try natural alternative methods before using chemical pesticides.
Natural alternatives to pesticides
Here are some natural alternatives to try:
- An effective way to get rid of insects is to handpick them and drop them into a container of soapy water.
- A strong spray of water can knock insect off plants. Handpick pests off delicate plants.
- Jars filled with a water and molasses mix (10 parts water to 1 part molasses) lure flying insects and cause them to drown.
- For slugs and snails, put 5 ml (one teaspoon) of yeast, 5 ml (one teaspoon) of sugar, 15 ml (two tablespoons) of flour, and 500 ml (2 cups) of warm water in a plastic container. Bury the container in the ground 1 ½ cm (½ inch) above the soil. Wood ashes sprinkled around the plants act as a deterrent.
- To trap earwigs, flatten paper towels or rolled-up newspaper and moisten them. Leave them out at night and in the morning shake the rolls out over soapy water.
- Use copper barriers to keep away slugs and snails. Sticky barriers keep away a variety of pests.
- Beneficial insects and predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, worms, bees, birds and spiders are attracted to your garden if you provide water, food and a place to live. These creatures help control your pest populations.
- You can make natural sprays. Here are some simple recipes:
- Natural fungicide: 15 ml (one tablespoon) of baking soda in 4 litres (1 gallon) of water controls powdery mildew.
- Natural insecticidal soap: 15 ml (one tablespoon) of dish detergent in 4 litres (1 gallon) of water is effective when applied on the top and underside of leaves. Leave on for half an hour, then rinse.
- Garlic insecticidal spray: in a blender combine one garlic bulb and 500 ml (2 cups) of water. Set aside for one day then strain the liquid. Mix the liquid with 4 litres (1 gallon) of water and apply to the tops and undersides of leaves.
Should you clean up those tree leaves in your yard?
Raking and bagging up leaves to throw away has become an autumn ritual for many of us. But your trees are giving you a gift you may want to keep around to help your garden and the environment.
Fall leaves on the ground cover up root systems, preserve soil moisture, suppress weeds and other plants. They also slowly break down and return (essential) nutrients to plants, tree fertilizer.
Leaving a thick layer of fallen leaves on top of your lawn—particularly bluegrass and fescue—prevents sunshine from reaching the turf and provides a cozy home for mold, bacteria, pests, and weed seeds. If you don't deal with the leaves at all, come spring your lawn will be patchy and less healthy. If you’d like to improve the health of your lawn but hate the bother of raking up leaves, don’t despair. Instead, turn those fallen leaves into mulch. If your lawn mower doesn’t have a mulching function, adjust the blades to the highest setting and mow right over the leaves. The resulting shredded foliage will slowly break down over the winter, providing nutrients to the grass underneath.
Woodchips are not available at this time.
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