Many of us are trying to grow gardens naturally, without herbicides and pesticides. This leaves us with the challenge of taking care of weeds and pests. Here are some natural things you can do to get rid of both. (I didn’t use the word organic, because the word can mean different things to different people.)
Stop Weeds Before They Start
By using a heavy layer of mulch, you can often prevent weeds from starting in the first place. When I was a kid, we used newspaper and black plastic. The newspaper works but often blows away. The black plastic works if you weigh it down with rocks. That is, until a hole is made, then weeds pop up through the hole. A reader shared a website called Back To Eden. This man uses wood chips for mulch and has great success. There is a video in which he describes how God revealed this method of gardening to him, which is how things are naturally and were in the Garden of Eden. The video is 90 minutes long, but worth watching.
Options for Killing Weeds
If you only have one or two weeds, pulling them from the root should take care of it, then just add it to the top of the mulch pile or toss it in the garbage.
You can pour boiling water on them as close to the root as you can. I have done this with some success on weeds that were growing on the outside of the raised beds. It’s hard to judge how much water you should pour, so I probably poured more than I needed to, but I wanted them dead.
The USDA Agricultural Research Service Scientists have proven that household vinegar mixed with water can kill weeds. Mix the two in a spray bottle and coat the leaves of a weed. Use caution as it will kill plants as well.
Coat weeds with soapy water; mix 5-6 tablespoons of dish soap with a quart of water. Spray the weeds thoroughly and yes, you guessed it be careful not to get any on your plants.
Insects can do an amazing amount of damage quickly, so it’s important to be paying attention to your plants. If you see an insect and you’re not sure what it is, identify it first to make sure you’re not killing a beneficial insect. Below are a few different methods for dealing with unwanted insects.
This is an idea I heard Jack Spirko from The Survival Podcast talk about. It’s been a while, but I think he said to get the hottest pepper you can from the grocery store, chop it up into small bits, add it to a spray bottle and add water. Let it sit overnight. In the morning, go out to your garden and look for the culprit. Spray a little firewater on him and his friends. Jack said this shouldn’t harm the plant in any way, but said to use it sparingly and avoid spraying the beneficial insects in your garden.
Create Habitat for Beneficial’s
Once you have identified a bug, instead of treating every bug as you see them, you can attract its natural predator. This could mean planting some flowers or plants that you might not normally grow. Here is a page that has information on using beneficial bugs as natural pest control.
You could also build habitat for insect eating birds. This, however, is a little more involved than just plating a few flowers.
Birds need a place nearby where they can perch and scan the garden for predators. Whether it’s a bird house or just a fashioned perch near the garden, either should be fine.
Birds are attracted to moving water. If you already have a birdbath, you could add a bubbler for $30-$40. If you don’t have a birdbath, you could look at a fountain instead. It doesn’t need to be huge or elaborate.
You could also add a bird feeder to sweeten the deal, and target the kind of bird you want in the garden, by using feed they love.
There are websites you can buy beneficial insects from, but if you don’t have the habitat for them, they won’t stay around for long.
I also listed several gardening resources that list some of the books I have on dealing with weeds and unwanted insects naturally.
Do you have any natural ways of dealing with pests or weeds?