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Organic Garden Sprays

essential oil bottles spring fever

Organic Garden Sprays…

Garden pest sprays do not have to be toxic to everything. Most of the sprays that are available are just that. They are broad spectrum pesticides, which means they kill everything. Good bugs and bad.

Organic land care has a more direct approach when it comes to controlling pests in the garden.

Remember: EVERYTHING IS THERE FOR A REASON!

Some insects are on this planet, in part, to eat weaker plants so they are not consumed by animals further up the food chain (thats us).

It is only when the populations get out of balance that we need to step in and adjust things. When that happens, here are some concoctions that will help keep specific pests (not all of them insects) from throwing off the balance of your garden.

The best long term solution to a healthy garden, is healthy soil. Insects are attracted to the weaker plants. Plants that are properly placed in the garden for optimum sun and water for that plant, will be less likely to be attacked by insects than one that is struggling for sunlight, or water. Also, proper nutrition is needed. Not just N-P-K, but all the micronutrients as well. Something you would find in a good quality compost.

Click on any of the links for an Organic Garden Sprays recipe.

Flea Beetles

flea beetles garden concoctions

Squirrels

squirrel organic garden concoctions

Cats

cat organic garden concoctions

Dogs

Aphids

peppermint organic garden concoctions

All Purpose Insect Spray

essential oil pic

For more information. or to chat about something specific, check out

www. eatmyshrubs.com

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Not only are they beautiful. You can Eat MY Shrubs!

*A special note on the ingredients.

By and large, these sprays work against the strong sense of smell that larger garden pests have. The insect sprays are more masking, or hiding the desired plants by making them “look” like other plants to the insect. As such, be sure to buy quality ingredients. Organic garlic is more flavourful to us, as an example, and in turn will be smellier to the deer. Without breaking the bank of course.

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Enhance Your Raised Garden Bed

Wicking beds are simply a style of garden bed.  They use a method of gardening where the garden bed has its own reservoir of water under the soil.  This is achieved by placing a waterproof barrier in the frame of the bed.  Then filling it with material that promotes the soils natural tendency to wick moisture up.

They are also referred to as self-watering beds.  Although this is misleading.  They are self regulating.  They will only fill so much before draining.  However, they do still require water input.  The result of the water being stored under the soil, is less water wastage due to evaporation.  As well, the plant roots are being drawn deeper into the soil.  This action will make them stronger and more drought tolerant.

three layers of a wicking bed

A wicking bed primarily consists of 3 layers. The container, the reservoir and the planting/wicking material. The main container could be anything from a small potter to a large field. Literally, anything sturdy that will hold water.

The basic idea is that the water “wicks”. The water is pulled up from below into the empty pore spaces in the planting soil. This is known as capillary action. The difference in pressure in the soil allows the sol to raise. A good illustration of this is a river bank. Look at the soil. You will notice it wet about a foot above the water level of the river. Thats wicking in action.

wicking started in wicking bed
wicking midway wicking beds

The reservoirs are the same as rain barrels in principle. From the overflow, the water can go into another bed. They can be plumbed together on the same grade, though the piping may get in the way of access. Therefore, it is much simpler design have the water flow down hill from one bed to the next.

To store and use as much rainwater as possible, before it leaves your property is the target.

wicking beds dogwood hedge

Once you decide which container you want to use, filling it up is what makes it a “wicking bed”. What I do, is keep everything within 2 feet. Thats 1 foot for the reservoir material, and 1 foot for the growing material. Most vegetables and annuals that like moist soil, will do just fine in 1 foot of beautiful soil that is kept just at the moisture level they like.

filled up with soil wicking beds

Some things to remember.

1. You want to keep the roots of plants, especially any perennials, out of any pipe installed or they will eventually clog it.

2. Water will only wick up so high, and not all soil materials wick the same.

3. Plant roots can only sense the water so far. If there is a space between how far up the water will wick and how far down your sprouts’ roots can “smell”, then things won’t work.

4. As the growing material absorbs the water, the soil level will go down. Have extra handy for a top-up before planting.

Check out the Wicking Bed pages for more information, descriptions, walk through a build, and see them in action.

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Essential Oils for the Garden

Essential oils for the garden.

The weather is warming up and things are beginning to awaken from their winter slumber. Many of us are wanting to get out and start making our property beautiful again. While the first buds are sprouting, and the insects are staring to buzz around the warm corners of buildings, now is the time to finish preparing for the outdoor season.

Although each garden is different. Many of the insects pest that wreck havoc on our peaceful places are similar. Organic Land Care teaches us how plants deal with these pests. We can aid in their processes without releasing a toxic cloud of chemicals that drift through our neighbourhoods. When the balance is off in the soil and the plants become weak, insect populations may explode overnight. When that happens, it is time to step in to help.

Before you run to the hardware store or garden centre for chemical sprays and powders. Have a look below for DIY garden sprays for the most common garden pests. Sprays will work to keep the pests away in the short term, but the plants need to be healthy to keep them away for good.

The mixtures can work out to less than $2 a bottle, and are only harmful to the specific insects. They all have benefits for us in different ways.

Check out www.eatmyshrubs.com to learn more and purchase top quality essential oils.

essential oil pic

All Purpose Essential Oil Pest Spray

In 1 Litre of Water add 10 – 15 drops each of

Rosemary Essential Oil,

Peppermint Essential Oil,

Clove Essential Oil,

& Thyme Essential Oil,

Add

1 Tablespoon of Castile Soap

Mix all the ingredients into a spray bottle (preferably glass if you are going to leave the mix in the bottle for an extended period of time) & spray liberally to the effected plants and surrounding soil.

essential oil bottles spring fever

Peppermint Spray for Aphids

In 1 Litre of Water add

15 drops of Essential Oil

1 Tablespoon Castile Soap

Mix the ingredients into a spray bottle & apply liberally to the effected plants.

Substitute Different Oils For Different Pests

Ants – Peppermint

Aphids – Peppermint, Sandalwood, or White Fir

Beetles – Peppermint, or Thyme

Caterpillars – Peppermint

Chiggers – Geranium, Lavender, Lemongrass, or Thyme

Cutworm – Thyme

Fleas – Lavender, Lemongrass , or Peppermint

Flies – Basil, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, or Geranium

Gnats – Patchouli

Mice – Peppermint

Mosquitos – Geranium, Lavender, or Lemongrass

Moths – Lavender, Peppermint, or Geranium

Plant Lice – Peppermint

Scorpions – Basil

Slugs – Fir, or Cedarwood

Snails – Patchouli, or Fir

Spiders – Peppermint

Ticks – Lavender, Lemongrass, or Thyme

Weevils – Patchouli, Sandalwood, or Cedarwood

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Aerating & Power Raking

Aerating

Aerating is the process in which plugs, or cores, are removed from the soil. This increases the soils air supply and can aid the plants respiratory actions. Carefully timed in the spring, just as the grasses are starting to grow roots, aerating can be very beneficial to an urban lawn. Primarily if the soil is compacted, or low in beneficial microorganisms.

Having said that, cutting cores out of the soil does deliberate damage to the root systems of the plants. If not kept in check, over-aerating or aerating too often, with big heavy machines, will have a detrimental effect on the soil. Really, aerating should be an occasional thing to relieve compaction. It can also be a means to inoculate the soil with beneficial microorganisms. Annual or semi-annual aerating is not only unnecessary, but will damage the soil in the long run.

At Eat MY Shrubs, we recommend to aerate in the early spring. Only if the soil really needs it. While the holes are open, top-dress with a good quality compost, or a compost soil mix, compost tea, or effective microorganisms.

*Special note* compost tea and effective microorganisms do not really like strong ultra violet rays. So, if going that route, best do it on a cloudy day, or late in the day. This will avoid killing everything you are adding to the soil, before they can take cover under the surface.

Power Raking

Power raking on the other hand, is not necessary and WILL damage your soil in a very short time. It is non-discriminate. The power rake tears up both dead and living plant material. By cutting, ripping, or generally disturbing living roots, it effectively kills more grass. Power raking begets more power raking. Don’t do it. If really necessary in a localized area of the lawn, a hand thatch rake can be used.

To much thatch in a lawn can be an issue as far as water and air getting to the soil. But, if there is an overgrowth of thatch in the lawn, that is telling us there is not enough microbial activity in the soil. The thatch on the soil surface, made up from dead plant material, should be broken down, eaten, and decomposed by these microbes and other small creatures. Therefore, returning all those nutrients back to the soil.

I recommend aerating in this scenario. While the holes are open, top-dress with a really good quality compost, and take every effort to ensure it gets into the holes. There are also specific microbes that you can add to your compost that especially consumes thatch. If you really wanted to go the extra step I would time it so that the final stages of cleaning up happen as a light rain starts.

compost tea into aeration hole

Use a sprinkler that aerates the water as much as possible, and gives the water as much time in the air to allow the chlorine to escape.

If you are using a municipal water supply remember that chlorine will kill all the microorganisms in the compost.

Collect rainwater people! If for no other reason but to irrigate your property. You will be less likely to need aerating and power raking in the future

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Composting for Small Spaces & Small Gardens

Composting for small spaces and small gardens can be tough. If you are a family that lives in an apartment or townhouse in an urban setting, your garden space, if any, is more than likely on the smaller scale. When this is the case, trying to squeeze in a 3-bin compost bin that measures 3m X 1m is pricey real estate to give up. Compost is by far the best thing you can add to the soil in your garden. Hands down. No argument. So what is a person to do?

Compost inside!?!

But, if you can’t fit a 3-bin system in your yard, can you fit one in the kitchen?

Just kidding. I am talking about composting inside, year-round, with worms.

worm close up composting for small spaces

Wait!!!

Don’t Go!!! Just wait!

A lot of people I have talked to, love seeing the worm bins at the market and in classrooms. But, when it comes to having them in our house. Many people get a little…squeamish.

worm compost for small places

“How do I get the compost out? ” & ” Do you have to pick out each worm?” Are questions I get asked a lot.

If you have not seen them before, allow me to introduce you to the migration system for worm composting!

Worm Composting – The Migration System

The migration system of composting with worms takes all the squeamish work out of harvesting the finished compost. Though, I would still recommend a pair of gloves, it is a great way of composting in small spaces. The key aspect to this system is the screen divider that splits the bin in half. Because of this divider, the worm farmer (that’s us) can use the natural tendency of the worms to move, or migrate, toward a food source.

The inside is lined with a poly film to protect both the wood from moisture but also, I have heard the worms don’t like cedar, so its a double purpose I guess.

How it works.

Really, the migration system can be used in any worm composting container. Simply make a screen divider that will fit snuggly into your worm bin. I construct bins to have a permanent divider built in. This just allows for more aggressive turning of the compost as it is being made. With the divider in the midway point in the bin, it is easy to divide the compost bin into 2 halves.

The worms do not know the difference!

I have been composting with worms for about 12 years. I have looked at them under microscopes and collected eggs from under layers of plastic when a hole was found in a liner. My kids do everything but name the worms as we feed them, so I can say this with a lot of confidence.

worm egg compost for small spaces

I’m pretty sure the worms have no idea the screen is even there!

divider compost for small spaces

It’s just a way for us to divide the working compost from the finished compost.

Feed the worms on one side of the screen and then, when that side is getting full, start feeding them on the other side of the screen. The worms will migrate to the new food source as the old food source is eaten. This will leave finished compost, virtually worm-free.

Finished compost close up

Basically, once you get into a rhythm, just move the food source from one side of the screen to the other. It’s actually kind of fun to watch the worms move from one side to the other. It is as close to communicating with the worms as (I think) we can get.

Worm composting can be a great addition for kids around 10 years old as well. They can have a thousand little pets! They need to be fed once a week at the most, but can go 3 weeks once they get established. It all depends on the quantity of food. The worms will never run away. They will only survive for a few minutes out of the compost. And, every few months you empty their bin of some of the best, organic soil amendment money can buy.

For free!

Visit eatmyshrubs.com to learn more about composting with worms (and other methods)!