Tips and Tricks for Bugs and Weeds
By Sarah Horan
No one wants to spray harmful chemicals in their garden, particularly if they are planning to eat out of it! Regular pesticide and herbicide products can be harmful to the other organisms that share the ecosystem with us, and who can be beneficial to your garden, like butterflies and birds.
However, weeds can’t be allowed to run rampant in your garden, and some bugs can be detrimental to your plants’ health. So what do you do? Here are a few ideas for organic, eco-friendly methods to control weeds and pests in your veggie garden.
The best method for removing weeds is really to just pull them out by hand. If you used pesticide on your weeds, you’d have to come along behind it and pull out all the dead plants anyway. Weeding by hand doesn’t introduce any unnecessary chemicals into your garden, and you don’t have to worry about accidently killing your veggies (or flowers).
Also, the introduction of herbicides can change the chemical makeup of your soil, and as everyone knows…healthy soil, healthy plants, and vice versa! A great tool for hand weeding is the Horihori, AKA Japanese soil knife. It has a slightly concave tapered blade, sereated on one edge and smooth on the other, which allows you to slice with it and also to dig, to attack those hard-to-get-at roots. They are available in any good gardening store or catalogue.
Before you plant, spraying the entire empty veggie bed with vinegar will kill any pre-existing weeds. Table vinegar, (5% acetic acid, that stuff you have in your kitchen cabinet,) will kill most baby weeds coming up in empty vegetable beds, or you can use 20% acetic acid, (marketed as WeedPharm), to kill off any more mature or hardier weed varieties. Both are totally safe, non-toxic and food grade herbicides.
You can make a totally organic, non-toxic pesticide from things in your kitchen. What you need: jalapeno or other HOT peppers, onion, garlic, 2 tbsp. vegetable-based dish soap, 1 gallon water. Mix all the ingredients together, let sit for 24 hours, strain into a spray bottle, and watch those bugs get out of your garden as fast as they can fly! Also, if you have aphid problems, consider buying some ladybugs. They’re a totally non-toxic method of controlling those little eaters, and they’re pretty too!