From Organic Insecticides

It’s Monarch Butterfly Season

 on thistle
on thistle

I’ve noticed Monarch butterflies are visiting my gardens and have always found their story quite fascinating.
See why here.

As gardeners, there are many ways that we can not only encourage Monarchs to visit, but also ensure that we don’t contribute to the reduction of these beautiful insects.

Organic gardening methods greatly reduce the destruction of the habitat that Monarchs favor. Using environmentally friendly pest and weed removal methods goes a long way in preserving Monarch’s natural habitat. Also by encouraging native plant growth in our yards and gardens, such as Milkweed which is essential for sustaining Monarch butterflies.

If you’ve ever come upon a flock of Monarchs clustered in the leaves of a tree, it’s a wonderful sight to see them take flight and fill the air with their graceful beauty.

You can even adopt a – what a great gift idea, and it includes an adoption kit as well.

Getting Rid of Pesky Japanese Beetles



It’s the time of year when Japanese Beetles find there way into your garden and they can create devastation in no time if they aren’t dealt with quickly. While they generally don’t eat dogwood, forsythia, holly, lilac, evergreens and Hosta, they’ll eat darn near everything else. These beetles feed on flowers and fruits making a skeleton of the leaves by eating the green parts and leaving the veins. Adults are most active from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on warm summer days. These voracious pests prefer plants in direct sun, so shady areas are usually less damaged.

Adult Japanese beetles are one quarter to one half inch long with copper colored wing covers and a shiny metallic green head. Between the green head and tiny tufts of white hair along their side you’ll recognize them easily as they happily munch on your roses.

The bacterial spore, sold as ‘Doom’ or ‘Grub Attack’ is generally used to control these pests. Using a hormone lure in your yard simply attracts more beetles to your yard. Put the lure somewhere else a hundred yards away encouraging the beetles to go elsewhere. Unfortunately, reducing the beetles in your yard will not reduce their attacks in succeeding years. These beetles are great fliers and can travel upwards of ten miles from where they hatched.

Handpicking is also effective on your prized plants – drop the beetles into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. There is some data that suggests hand picking is as effective as spraying noxious chemicals and you know you have killed the beetle when it drowns in your soapy bucket. One trick is to hold the bucket of soapy water under the plant and then shake the plant. Beetles will fall off the plant right into the bucket and you’ll get more beetles if you do this in the early morning before they start feeding and flying. Several birds (grackles, cardinals, meadowlarks) feed on the adult beetles so encourage birds in your yard.

If you decide to use a lure, place it at least 100 feet away from your garden. Lures like the Tanglefoot 300000665 Japanese Beetle Trap attract beetles and if you place one in your garden, you’ll have all the neighbors beetles visiting as well. Find a neighbor who doesn’t garden to host the lures and traps.

Six Tips To Start Organic Gardening

Organic gardening is the way of growing vegetables and fruits with the use of things only found in nature.

Why would one want to indulge in organic gardening?

1. One can easily make compost from garden and kitchen waste matter. Though this is a bit more time-consuming than buying prepared chemical pesticides and fertilizers, it certainly helps to put garbage to good use and so saves the environment.

2. Organic farming does not use chemicals that may have an adverse affect on your health. This is especially important when growing vegetables. Chemical companies tell us that the chemicals we use are safe if used according to direction, but research shows that even tiny amounts of poisons absorbed through the skin can cause such things as cancer, especially in children.

On the average, a child consumes four to five times more cancer-causing pesticides from foods than an adult. This can lead to various diseases later on in the child’s life. With organic gardening, these incidents are lessened.

Remember, pesticides contain toxins that have only one purpose – to kill living things.

3. Less harm to the environment. Poisons are often washed into our waterways, causing death to the native fish and polluting their habitat.

4. Organic farming practices help prevent the loss of topsoil through erosion.
The Soil Conservation Service says that an estimated 30 – 32 billion tons of soil erodes from United States farmlands every year.

5. Cost savings. One does not need to buy costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic gardening. Many organic recipes for the control of pest and disease come straight from the kitchen cupboard. Sometimes other plants can be grown as companions to the main crop. An example of this is the marigold, which helps to repel aphids from vegetables.

Mixing 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and 1 cup of cooking oil can make a cheap garden pest spray. Put 3 tablespoons of this mixture in 1 quart of water and spray on plants.

6. A simple mulch of pine needles will help to suppress the growth of weeds as well as keeping the moisture in.

Organic gardening practices help to keep the environment safe for future generations.

Ever Thought About Becoming a Bee Keeper?

keeping bees, bee honey, bee hive
Bees Are a Critical Part of the Garden

There’s been a great deal of coverage in the media about disappearing honey bees in the past year or so.  Experts speculate about what may be causing the mysterious disappearing act – cell phones, viruses, weather (climate change/global warming).  It may be years before we know the answers, if we ever do.

As an avid gardener, it’s concerning to think that the bee population is on the decline since our food supply is so dependent on these little buzzing pollinators.  I live in a suburban area with not enough property to become a bee keeper and I have enough respect for the honey bees and all types of bees that I would want to learn as much about bee keeping as possible before attempting to raise bees for honey.

Fortunately I work with an organic farmer who has become quite adept at raising honey bees and he’s very generous with the harvest each year.  He studied at the University of Minnesota and has been raising bees for honey and to pollinate his crops for several years now.  The sweet taste of clover honey cannot be beat by any store bought honey on the shelf.  To learn more about raising your own honey bees, start here: BeeKeeping For Beginners

More Tips For Organic Gardening

Organic gardening is an easy way of increasing vegetables and fruit production with the use of simple items found in nature.

So why would one desire to indulge in organic gardening?

1. It can immediately help make compost from garden and kitchen waste products. Though this is a bit more time-consuming than purchasing prepared poisoned baits plus fertilizers, it certainly really helps to put garbage to good use and thus saves environmental surroundings.

2. Organic farming doesn’t use chemicals that can build up and have an adverse affect on your health. Almost all of the essential when growing veggies. Chemical companies tell us that the chemicals we use are safe if used based on direction, but research indicates that even tiny levels of poisons absorbed throughout the skin can cause diseases such as cancer, especially in youngsters.

An average kid ingests four to five times more cancer-causing pesticides from foods than grown-ups. With organic gardening, these incidents are lessened.

Keep in mind, pesticides contain toxins which have just one purpose – to kill living items.

3. Less harm to the environment. Poisons in many cases are washed into our waterways, causing death in native fish and polluting their habitat.

4.Organic farming practices help prevent losing topsoil through erosion.

It is a well known fact that a great deal of soil erodes from US farmlands every year.

4. Cost savings. There is no need to purchase expensive chemicals when organic gardening. There are many organic recipes that aid in keeping pests away, and many of these ingredients come straight from your kitchen cupboard. At times other plants may be grown as companions to aid in the healthy grown of a main crop. An example of this is the marigold, which helps to repel aphids from veggies.

Mixing one tablespoon of liquid dish-washing soap and even one cup of cooking oil could make an affordable garden pest spray. Put three tbsps of the mixture in 1 quart of water and spray on plants.

5. A fairly easy mulch of pine needles will assist you to suppress the growth of weeds plus keeping moisture in.

6. Organic gardening practices keep the environment risk-free for generations to come.

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Keeping Japanese Beetles Away From Strawberries

How to rid strawberries of Japanese Beetles
Japanese Beetle on Strawberry Blossom

While strolling through my garden this evening, I encountered a colorful (very unwelcome) visitor on my strawberry plants.  Japanese Beetles love strawberries and eggplants (and most other vegetation) and will quickly destroy a plant in no time.   They are one of the most destructive garden pests.  Its best to deal with them as soon as they appear, since they attract each other with pheromones.

Since I only saw one, it was easy to deal with but from what I’ve read on some of the gardening sites, they can be very difficult to get rid of.

Some organic methods that are recommended are:

  • Flicking them into a dish of soapy water which will kill them.
  • Using traps to attract them (this is favored by some gardeners, but not recommended by others since it seemed to make the problem worse by attracting even more).
  • Applying Milky Spore (click here for product info) to your lawn and garden areas (one treatment can last for up to 15 years).
  • Picking them off and killing them.

Harvesting ripe fruit promptly helps too, since they are especially attracted to overripe fruit. I’ll be keeping an eye out for these pests and removing them as soon as they appear so they don’t take over my garden.

Rain + Mulch + Hostas = Slug Damage

Hostas damaged by slugs.
Hostas damaged by slugs.

Wood bark, shredded leaves, and other organic mulch are a staple in organic landscapes and gardens. Unfortunately, it is also a haven for slugs to hide out until the cover of darkness arrives when they come out in full force to destroy foliage.  Hostas are especially prone to damage by slugs, but they can do a lot of damage in a short time in vegetable gardens too.

Beer traps are somewhat effective but require that you keep the traps filled and it’s a shame to waste a good beer on slimy creatures!

There are a number of safe, effective options for ridding your garden of slugs and other garden pests.  An organic product, Monterey Sluggo Plus Insect, Slug & Snail Pellets For Organic Gardening contains iron phosphate and Spinosad, which is a naturally occurring insecticide made from soil microbes, are both very effective ingredients for safely protecting your gardens from damage caused by earwigs, cutworms, sowbugs, pillbugs, slugs, and snails.

Sluggo Plus granules are sprinkled on the ground and are effective for up to 4 weeks, but may need to reapplied after heavy rains. It’s safe for birds, pets, and other wildlife. For more information on Monterey Sluggo Plus Insect, Slug & Snail Pellets For Organic Gardening, Click Here.