Tag: Gardening

Gardening Tips: Homemade Organic Pesticides

Every gardener knows the frustration of putting hard work into growing strong and healthy crops only for them to be snatched away by an animal or picked apart by insects just before harvest. This year, avoid the heartbreak of seeing the fruits of your labor devoured by pests and make your own safe, organic pesticide.

 

 

There are several kinds of homemade pesticides. Try a few to see what works best for you.

Soap – Diluting dish soap inside a spray bottle is an effective way to deal with pests like aphids. Spray the soapy water mixture directly on the insects. The mixture will work on contact, so only use it when there is an ongoing infestation.

Vegetable Oil – Oil is thick and makes it difficult for insects to breathe. Mix one part dish soap to four parts vegetable oil to create a concentrate. Combine one tablespoon of your concentrate to every four cups of water. The mixture can be sprayed directly onto insects, similar to the soap mixture.

Diatomaceous Earth – Diatomaceous earth is a very fine and abrasive powder of fossilized microorganisms called diatoms. It is used as a pest control measure in many places, including fleas on pets, and can be found in most garden or pet stores. Sprinkle it around your garden to kill and repel insects. Reapply it after any rain.

Garlic & Chile – Both of these veggies give off scents that drive away insects and animals. Blend fresh garlic or chiles, strain the result into a mixture with water, and add a small amount of soap.

Hair – That’s right! Human hair repels pesky animals such as deer who may view your newly grown veggies as a delicious snack. Line your garden with hair clippings to repel animals that would normally eat your fruits and vegetables.

As a rule of [green] thumb, avoid spraying homemade pest controls during the heat of the day. They could potentially damage plants if they dry out too quickly.

Find more of Dr. Dirt’s gardening tips on subjects like soil type and nutrients here.

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Agriculture

Gardening Tips: How to Learn Your Garden’s Soil Type

Whether you’re a farmer planting miles of crops or you’re looking to start a small garden in your backyard, one of the first steps is learning what kind of soil you’ll be planting in. The three main types of soil are sand, silt, and clay. Each holds nutrients and water differently. To give your garden the best chance to flourish, try this trick to determine your soil type:

After your soil has settled to the bottom of your water bottle, you’ll know what percentage of your soil is sand, silt, and clay. Just like Convoy of Hope Agriculture participants, you can use this information to learn which things will grow and thrive best in your region.

SAND

Soil with a lot of sand can drain water more efficiently than other soil types, which can lead to the loss of nutrients. This also means the soil will warm faster in the spring. Sandy soil is best for growing vegetable root crops like carrots and potatoes, and bulbs like tulips and sun roses. Other crops that are good with this soil type include:

  • Lettuce
  • Collard greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

SILT

Silty soil drains well but retains more water than sandy soil. This soil type is great for shrubs, climbers, grasses, and perennials. Trees, vegetables, and fruits that love moisture can also do well in silty soil, but make sure they have adequate drainage. Other crops that are good to plant in this soil type include:

  • Blackberries
  • Beach roses
  • Raspberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Hops
  • Grapes
  • Rye
  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Ginger
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

CLAY

Clay soil holds the most water, which means it will also be the slowest to warm when spring arrives. Like silty soil, clay soil works great for perennials and shrubs. This soil also works well for summer crop vegetables like corn and ornamental trees, such as lavender, cacti, and cherry blossoms. Other crops that are good with this soil type include:

  • Aster
  • Flowering quince
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Grapes 
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Peaches

For more information on determining your soil type, click here to download a resource from Virginia State University. To learn more about how Convoy of Hope trains individuals in our Agriculture program, visit convoyofhope.org/ag.

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Agriculture