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As much as you love organic gardening for the fresh, herbicide-free produce it provides, the weeds and bugs love it for the chemical-free environment. Just because you don’t want to use synthetic pesticides near your food doesn’t mean you need to spend every free moment fighting the weeds and bugs either. Here are some great safe ways to control those pesky, un-welcomed plants and pests.
Mulch Early and Often
As soon as you clear your garden beds in the spring and plant your favorite fruits and vegetables, lay down mulch to suppress weed growth. If you’re planting row crops such as beans or peas, leave a few inches for the plants to grow and cover the rest of the bed with mulch that will nourish the soil while blocking sun from weed seeds. For plants such as strawberries, consider covering an entire garden bed with several layers of newspaper and then creating holes for the actual plants. Be sure you make the holes large enough to prevent root rot.
As the growing season goes on, pull weeds early and re-mulch areas that seem to be welcoming more growth. At the end of the season, clear out all old weeds, and cover with a layer of cardboard and straw for the winter.
Companion Plant Items That Bugs Dislike
Just like adults and children don’t like particular fruits and vegetables, certain bugs have preferences as well. A few well-placed onion plants, for instance, may deter rabbits and cabbage loopers. Maggots and beetles don’t care for garlic, and Japanese beetles and aphids avoid catnip. Some plants produce essential oils that repel insects, including mint, pines and true grasses.
Pinpoint and Address Specific Problems
Instead of trying to manage all weeds and pests at once, pay attention to where your real problems lie and target those. If you love to grow beans and cutworms are destroying your plants, find solutions for that specific problem. Dichotomous earth and rotating your beans to a new bed can help in this situation. If an old garden bed has been neglected for years, consider weed burning or laying down plastic during the summer to cook the weeds to death before planting it the following year.
Check Out Household Products for Help
In some cases, you may be able to win the battle with items such as vinegar solutions, dish soap sprays, and alcohol. Some of these homemade solutions will work with the sun to dry out and kill weeds while others will make tasty plants less appealing due to scent or slippery surfaces. In most cases, these homemade concoctions are not toxic or at least much less toxic than commercial solutions.
By applying some ingenuity and old-fashioned ingredients, you may be able to win the battle against weeds and pests in your organic garden without the use of chemicals or the back-breaking labor.