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Be a Picky Gardener

insect

insect (Photo credit: Kenny Teo (zoompict))

Nowadays everyone is looking for alternative methods for controlling insect pests in their homes and gardens.
If you’re old enough to remember when DDT was hailed as a great new pesticide for home use (1950’s) you know how much damage chemical pesticides can cause.
Doing your part to help keep chemicals out of our streams and ground water may be as simple as going back to the “old” gardening methods.

Picky, Picky, Picky

  • Pick slightly acidic (6.5ph) sterile soil, sterile tools and compost heated to 160 degrees F during the composting cycle to help control soil-borne disease.
  • Pick only sturdy, healthy plants that are resistant strains. Better nursery tags include information about susceptibility to certain insects or disease.
  • Pick a good time to visit your garden and stick with it. Frequent checking of plants for problems will give you that much needed edge.

Here’s a few tips to help you make the most of your time in the garden.

*Water in the morning or use drip irrigation. Wet leaves at night invite insects , mold and disease.

*Give your plants breathing room. Spacing helps curb fungus and avoids injury. Thin weak plants as needed.

*Know your enemy. Take a small bucket of water with you to the garden for depositing handpicked insects. Learn to recognize beneficial insects and their larvae like ladybugs, lacewings, preying mantis.

*Interplant crops. Plant smaller sections in case of infestation occurs in a given area.

*Sanitation. Remove weeds, decaying leaves and sick or diseased plants. Remember not to put these in your compost pile!

*Bath time. A steady stream of water can wash off pests. Directly applied insecticidal soaps work by breaking down the insect’s shell with fatty acids. Both methods are only a temporary solution.

*Flower Power. Remember the active ingredients of botanicals are Pyrethrum and Rotenone. These are still chemicals and what makes it a problem is both break down slowly and can be toxic to fish and other cold-blooded animals.

Thanks for being picky about your gardening habits and being responsible to future gardeners.

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About the author

Cindy's Recipes and Writings

As a professional cook, I love creating exciting new recipes on the job as well as at home. Assisting in teaching low-income families how to buy, store and prepare healthy food through Penn State’s alliance with Pennsylvania’s Supercupboard Program was very rewarding. During my 11 years with the Master Gardener program, I taught horticultural therapy to assisted living patients using healthful, fr
esh grown food as a focal point. . My hands-on programs and instruction helped hundreds of children and adults learn about where their food comes from and how important fresh food is for your body.
Currently I’m a cook at a college in Pennsylvania. We prepare everything we can from scratch, including our potato chips that tout the seasoning of the day!
Of course I write about food; it's in my blood!

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