Natural Gardening

The herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers so commonly used by the average homeowner are having detrimental effects on people, pets, wildlife and the environment.  These toxic chemicals are washed into waterways and are destroying delicate ecosystems.

We can help protect our environment and create a healthier home for our pets and ourselves by using eco-friendly alternatives in our gardens.

Learn to identify beneficial insects in their various life stages and create an environment that encourages them.

  • Ladybugs control aphids, mites and other soft-bodies insects.
  • Predatory mites are effective against spider mites.
  • Green lacewings control aphids, mites and other soft-bodied insects. They can eat sixty or more aphids in one hour.
  • Decollate snails are effective against brown garden snails.

Hand picking larger pests is effective.  Place them in a jar of soapy water as you pick them off the plant.  Smaller insects such as aphids, thrips and mites can be sprayed off the plant with a hose.

Planting herbs among your flowers and vegetables can repel many insects.  Basil, Eucalyptus, Lemon Grass, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme are good choices.  You can make a tea solution from the herbs to spray on other plants as an insect repellent.  Chop fresh leaves from two or more different herbs and place them in a container.  Add just enough hot water to completely cover the leaves.  Cap and let set for 24 hours.   Strain the leaves from the tea before putting it in a sprayer.  You can also use the essential oils from these herbs by adding one teaspoon of essential oil to one pint of cool water.  The solution will lose it effectiveness rather quickly so discard any that is left after 2 days.

Companion gardening can encourage healthy plant growth while discouraging pests.

  • Basil is helpful for Asparagus, Eggplant, Pepper and Tomatoes and will repel white flies. Sweet Basil will repel flies so it is a good choice for potted plants around the outside of the house.  Rue should not be planted with Basil.
  • Catnip attracts bees and repels a number of garden pests. It will spread and take nutrients out of the soil so it needs to be kept under control.
  • Chamomile attracts beneficial insects such as hover flies and helps Onion, Cabbage, Cucumbers and other herbs.
  • Chives and Garlic Chives help Tomatoes, Roses, Grapes, fruit shrubs and fruit trees. It should not be planted by Peas or Beans.  You can make a tea from the leaves to remove mildew.
  • Dill helps Cabbage, Cucumbers, Onion, Corn and Lettuce. It should not be planed close to Carrots.
  • Garlic is an excellent general repellent and is particularly useful in repelling aphids. Planted by roses it helps protect against black spot and other diseases.  It should not be planted by Peas or Beans.
  • Hyssop will repel black flies and is helpful for Cabbage and Beans.
  • Lavender attracts bees and butterflies and deters moths.
  • Marigold can be used as hedging plants around vegetables and flowerbeds. Substances exuded through Marigold roots kill harmful nematodes in the soil and the aroma of the flowers repels other pests.
  • Peppermint and Spearmint repel ants, black flea, beetles and cabbage caterpillars. It is helpful to Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Tomatoes and Roses.  It needs to be kept under control as it will spread.
  • Nasturtium attracts hover flies that consume aphids. It deters squash bugs and pumpkin beetles.  Nasturtium can be planed near Squash, Pumpkins, Melons, Cucumbers, Radish and fruit trees.
  • Parsley enhances the flavor of Tomatoes and improves the growth and aroma of Roses.
  • Rosemary repels carrot flies and helps many vegetables, particularly Beans and Cabbage. Rosemary and Sage planted together simulate each other’s growth.
  • Sage repels cabbage worms and moths and will improve the flavor of Cabbage, Carrots, Tomatoes and Strawberries. It should not be planed by Onions.  Sage and Marjoram do well when planted together.
  • Savory deters bean beetles and is helpful to Onions.
  • Tansy repels small flying garden pests and ants. It is helpful for Roses, fruit bushes, fruit trees, Squash and Cucumbers.  It should not be planted by Collards.
  • Thyme improves the flavor of neighboring plants and is a strong pest deterrent, especially cabbage worms.
  • Yarrow will attract a variety of beneficial insects including hover flies and ladybugs.

When buying plants be sure to seek out a local grower who can verify their plants have not been treated with neonicotinoid insecticides.  The following is an article in the February/March 2014 issue of Mother Earth News:

“Unless you’re buying certified organic transplants this spring, you may be introducing persistent neonicotinoid insecticides into your garden — and thus into your food. As MOTHER EARTH NEWS has reported, neonics are potent systemic pesticides that spread through plants and contaminate pollen and nectar. The lingering poisons persist in soil, and they can be absorbed by subsequent crops. Neonics are one of the factors known to be contributing to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon linked to the deaths of a vast number of honeybees over the past several years. These pesticides are also suspected of reducing many bird populations, as widespread use of neonics means fewer insects, which means less food for birds.

Neonics are widely used by farmers, and many garden centers and nurseries sell plants treated with them, too. This means you may be feeding neonics to your family, and bees could be poisoned by nursery plants you bring home. A 2013 study by the environmental group Friends of the Earth found neonics in plants from Lowe’s and Home Depot stores in Minneapolis, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. In Europe, the Pesticide Action Network tested more than 100 plant samples of crops such as strawberries, tomatoes and zucchini, and found neonic residues in several samples of each crop.

The neonic-producing chemical companies (Bayer and Syngenta) have convinced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that these insecticides do not pose a danger to humans. We, however, aren’t so sure. The chemicals’ effect on brain cells is similar to that of nicotine, and nicotine exposure is a known cause of adverse effects in children. A 2012 Japanese study concluded that neonics may pose potent risks to human health.”

3 thoughts on “Natural Gardening

  1. How can I safely deter feral cats from using my flower and vegetable beds as their potty spot? I don’t like to wear gloves when working in the dirt but am afraid of catching toxoplasmosis or something else. These cats are also annoying my dogs terribly.




    1. There are a few plants that you can add to the garden that may repel cats. Lavender, Plectranthus Caninus and Lemon Thyme are good choices. Pennyroyal and Common Rue are often recommended but they are poisonous to cats and dogs so should be avoided. (I have seen Pennyroyal oil in flea repellent ingredients which is very disturbing. Ingesting a small amount can kill a pet.) You could also try using a thick layer of mulch nuggets instead of the shredded mulch most often used. Just avoid cocoa mulch since this is poisonous to dogs.


      1. Thank you!


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