Gardening – Organic Vegetable Gardening

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Make the right choice. Choose veggie varieties with high disease and insect resistance for optimum success rates. Also keep in mind that longer maturing plants are more prone to insects and diseases.

Use compost and/or manure for mulch and fertilizer.

Encourage Ladybugs, butterflies, preying mantis, dragonflies, Tachinid flies, Damselflies, wasps, Crab spiders, birds, chameleons, geckos and frogs to help control pests. Plants that attract these insects are alfalfa, angelica, borage, caraway, carrot, clover, coriander, cosmos, dill, feverfew, lavender, lemon balm, lovage, marigold, mustard, nasturtium, parsley, rose-scented geraniums, spearmint, sunflowers, sweet alyssum, sweet fennel, thyme and other indigenous flowers.

Mulch to retain moisture, provide insulation, fertilize and keeping weeds down.

Compost and Manure. The importance of organic matter for soil structures can’t be over-stressed. Manure is not always easily available but all gardeners should manufacture their own compost. Creating your own compost heap helps eliminate organic waste, so often found in modern times. Instead of discarding anything of organic origin add it to your heap. 3 Months is needed for decomposition, letting it stand longer will only result in precious nutrients leaching away. Use semi-decomposed matter for drainage in planting holes and the rest to improve and mulch soil.

To start a compost heap you need to clear, level and treat a suitably sized space. This will hinder flies from breeding.
The heap may be as long as permitted but at least 1,3m wide and high.
Always mix soft materials together, but only add grass clippings, green vegetation and vegetable waste after wilting in the sun first.
Moisten all matter thoroughly and ensure medium moisture throughout, with new additions pressed in firmly.
Ensure air circulation by mixing matter thoroughly.
Sprinkle agricultural lime over every 20cm layers and additional mushroom compost, manure or bark clippings over every third layer could prove very beneficial.
Build two heaps for constant supply.

Leaf mould is a main form of nutrition in nature. Leaves, excluding pine needles, are ideal for forming humus and are an excellent medium for the compost heap.
Pine bark chips decompose very slowly and are ideal for well-established plants. Note that pine bark, when fresh, may slow the growth of young plants down, due to it containing a growth inhibitor.
Straw is brilliant for it is almost completely weed-free.
Shredded pruning should lie for a few days to neutralize before incorporating it as mulch.
Pebbles, stone-chips, rocks or pavers are ideal for mulching rock gardens.

Manure Water:
Fill a large container (use one that’s got a lid) with water. Make a Hessian bag, or use an empty orange bag, for the manure. Fill bag with high quality manure and hang in the water. Leave to stand for a couple of days. Stir the bag in the water and pour a little of the liquid into a bucket. Now add enough water to this so that it resembles weak tea. Irrigate plants with this manure liquid and replace the bag every two months.

Rotating your vegetables:
Potatoes following sweet corn, sweet corn following cabbages;
Peas after tomatoes and tomatoes after beans;
Root crops follow cucurbits and root crops after potatoes.

The following thrive together:
Beans and potatoes; peas and carrots; cabbage and beets; cabbage and spinach; cabbage and celery; cabbage and lettuce; peas and turnips; spinach and cauliflower; kohlrabi and beets; spinach and eggplant; corn and beans; corn and cucumbers.

The following reject each other:
Fennel and tomatoes; tomatoes and peas; tomatoes and potatoes; bush beans and onions; cabbages and onions; parsley and lettuce.

Repellents: Stay away from insecticides and pesticides and rather opt for natural deterring sprays.
Control weeds manually instead of using weed killers.
Marigolds are great to plant with and around the veggie garden as it repel a variety of insects.
Sage will repel cabbage moths to a certain degree and is therefore a good addition to plant close to cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
Chives (and garlic sprays) are known to repel aphids.
Control ant numbers with mint planted under attacked plants.
Trap fruit beetles by making holes in the sides of a plastic cool drink bottle. Dice an old pineapple into little cubes and place in the bottom of the bottle. Sprinkle alcohol over. Hang this bottle close to plants that are susceptible to fruit beetles.
Plant strong smelling herbs under fruit trees attacked by fruit fly.
Whiteflies can be controlled by spraying with a garlic tea.
Flee beetles are deterred by lettuce.
Spraying a concentrated sugary liquid on the undersides of the leaves to create a sticky, unpleasant area can deter red spider mite. Mineral oil or garlic sprays can also be used but not during hot weather.
Wood shavings repel slugs and snails when fresh. Always rake your soil evenly to avoid hiding places ideal for laying eggs.

The following mulches will discourage snails too:
Sawdust, clean river sand, comfrey leaves, untreated pine bark and rough peanut shells.

Note: The tomato hornworm is attracted by Dill, so plant it on the opposite side from tomatoes. Keep plants well fed to ensure healthy growth.

Combating diseases:
Keep plants healthy - prevention is better than cure.
Rotate both the vegetables and sites.
Spacing of veggies for adequate airflow.
Design the kitchen garden so that prevailing winds increase airflow down each row.
Sanitize the garden regularly. Remove and burn all dead plant parts. Alternatively use on the compost heap.
Do not harvest recently watered plants that are still wet.
Make use of drip irrigation instead of overhead watering.

Organic Garden Sprays:

Fungicide- & Powdery Mildew Spray:
1 Gallon water
3 Tablespoons Baking soda
1 Tablespoon Jik Bleach
1 ½ Teaspoon Dishwashing Liquid
Add all ingredients together and mix. Spray affected leaves after those worst affected has been removed. Use with a light hand as the bleach can damage the foliage.

Nasturtium Spray (aphids, red spider mites):
4 Handfuls of fresh nasturtium leaves
4 Cups of boiling water
Pour the water over the leaves and steep for 25 minutes. Use 20 drops per 2 litres of water for spray.

Garlic Garden Spray (aphids, cabbage moth, caterpillars, mosquitoes, snails):
4 Large garlic cloves, unpeeled
7 Tablespoons medicinal paraffin oil
1 ¼ Tablespoon, oily soap, grated
550ml Hot water
Add the paraffin oil and garlic to a blender and mix to a pulp. Scrape into a bowl and let it stand for two days covered. Melt grated soap in hot water and add to garlic mixture. Keep in fridge, stored in sealed jars. Use 1 tablespoon of solution to 1 litre of water when spraying.

Hot Pepper Spray (avoid using the spray on certain vegetables as a pepper taste may remain):
6 Very hot Chillies
2 Cups of water
Put chillies and water in a blender and pulverize. Pour into a bowl and wait for 24 hours. Strain pulp through a cheesecloth or sieve. Use one cup of chilli mix to 1 litre of water. Apply generously to plants weekly.

Myrtle Insecticide Spray (Ideal for whitefly, red spider mite and aphids):
1 pot of fresh myrtle sprigs
1 pot of lavender sprigs or marigold
Infuse these into 2 pots of boiling water and allow to stand for 12 hours. Strain and add 2 handfuls of soap powder. Mix well and spray onto affected plants.

Pawpaw- and Garlic Spray for Cutworms:
5 Garlic cloves
1 Handful of Pawpaw leaves
Blend together in blender and add pulp to 1 cup water. Let stand for 2 days and the strain. Use one cup of this mix per one litre water when spraying affected plants.

Garlic - antibiotic of the garden:
Garlic must be incorporated into the orchard, the vegetable- and flower garden. Due to its allicin oil quantities, it acts as an anti-fungal element. Try the following:
Plant garlic with strawberries, tomatoes and raspberries to avoid fungal disease.
Plant garlic with mildew-prone plants and those prone to rust and tomato blight.
Plant garlic under fruit trees to avoid scab and root disease.
Plant garlic in appropriate areas to deter carrot fly and aphids.
Plant garlic next to ponds or standing water to control mosquito larvae, or pour garlic oil into the water.

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Winter Garden Care: To Spray or Not to Spray? / Using Winter Annuals Effectively / Guidelines to Planting Seedlings / Februaury in the Kitchen Garden / Start a Kitchen Garden / Container Recipes / Garden Plants Perfect for Attracting Beneficial Insect Parasites and Predators / The Living World of Conifers / Preparing Roses for Spring / Pruning is Rewarding / Spring Seed Sowing / Spiders and Pesticides / Cold Blooded Wildlife: The Gift of Nature / Predatory Ladybirds: Nature's Solution to Aphid Control / Organic Plant Nutrition / Organics and Chemicals / Irrigation Practice in Landscaping - An Alternative View / Drip Irrigation in Landscaping

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