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Gardening with Laurie: Tips to successful organic gardening

Aug. 3, 2010 at 3:03 a.m.
Updated Aug. 4, 2010 at 3:04 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

By Laurie Garretson

One of the best practices any gardener can use is to grow plants that are well adapted to their particular gardening area.

The best environment for a healthy, vigorous plant growth is to use:

Plants that are native to an area, or have been adapted to the area.

Are planted in a soil that's rich in nutrients preferred by the plant.

Are grown in the season best suited to the plant.

This is a practice commonly used by organic gardeners, gardening with nature.

As we organic gardeners know, all the best gardening practices in the world won't totally wipe out pests and disease problems.

Natural gardeners are not interested in using chemical products on their plants.

Organic gardeners will go to great lengths to find natural, safe methods to control garden problems.

Natural gardeners can be very creative when coming up with solutions to various garden dilemmas.

Hand-picking garden pests is probably the oldest and most common form of insect pest control. But pest solutions have definitely evolved over the centuries.

One of the most inventive pest control methods I've learned is to use a hand-held vacuum to suck up the pests. Just think what our forefathers would have thought about vacuuming their tomato plants.

One easy and very inexpensive way to trap pill bugs, slugs and snails is to use a half of an eaten grapefruit.

Placed in the garden face down. The grapefruit half will provide a cool, dark, damp location for the critters. Every few days, collect the pests that have accumulated under the grapefruit and dispose of them.

Another tried-and-true natural trapping device for snails is the stale beer trap.

Pour a couple cups of stale beer into an empty mayonnaise jar. Push the jar down into the soil until the rim of the jar is just at the soil level. Snails will be attracted to the yeast, fall into the jar and drown.

The snails are not particular to the brand of beer. In fact, you can make up your own yeast water that will work just as well. Two teaspoons of baking yeast in six ounces of water is all you'll need.

Sticky traps are often used by home gardeners as well as many of the bigger plant growers. Sticky traps are basically just like the old fashion fly paper traps.

Sticky traps are usually yellow, and sometimes white, card stock paper that's coated with a very sticky substance that does not dry out.

Many pest like whiteflies and gnats are lured to the color yellow.

The insect comes in contact with the paper and becomes "glued" to it, never to bother another plant.

Gardeners can make their own sticky trap by coating a bright yellow piece of card stock or cardboard with Tanglefoot. Tanglefoot and Sticky Traps can be found at local feed stores and garden centers.

Modern science has lead many of us natural gardeners to using sex pheromone traps to lure pests away from our plants. Scientists have collected insect pheromones and come up with synthetic solutions that mimic the insect's natural pheromone scent. Pheromone traps are available for many specific types of pests, everything from harmful beetles to tree bores.

As long as there are people concerned about what they spray on their crops and what's in the air they breathe, we'll keep coming up with non-toxic solutions to our gardening problems. We'll keep working with nature.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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