Organic Gardening: Controlling Insects and Weeds Naturally
By Charles Hopkins
Published 01/2/2008 | Gardening
The only difference between regular gardening and organic gardening is
that no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are used when gardening
organically. It might be a little more work to grow plants this way,
but it is well worth the effort.
The biggest problems with growing things organically are insects,
disease and weeds. But there are natural ways to protect your plants
from these three killers.
Organic gardening starts with the soil. Rather than adding
chemicals to the soil, organic gardeners regularly add organic matter
in order to keep the soil healthy and productive. In fact, compost is
essential to the well being of plants grown organically.
If you do not already have a compost pile or compost bin, one can
be made with leaves, dead flowers, manure, fruit rinds, vegetable
scraps, grass clippings and many other things.
What you need is soil that is dark in color and that has a sweet
smell. So be generous with the compost, choose a spot that drains well
so that water does not just sit around the plants, follow the
guidelines in this article, and your plants should stay healthy and
You might have healthy soil to start with and only need to add some
compost. But some soil might need more natural additives than compost
provides. Natural additives include things such as rock phosphates and
bone meal. By purchasing and using a simple soil test you will know the
soil's pH balance and be able to determine which nutrients you need to
One of the things that makes organic gardening more difficult is
keeping insects off the plants. Most gardeners simply reach for a
pesticide and spray the plants. But organic gardeners who truly want to
stay away from chemicals must find other alternatives. Instead of using
pesticides, the best way to defend your plants from insects is to use
Since unhealthy plants are more likely to be attacked by insects,
one of the best natural ways to protect your garden from insects is to
make sure your plants are healthy.
There are several things you can do to encourage healthy plants. Keeping them not too wet and not too dry is one thing.
Another way to protect your plants from insects, however, is to encourage insect predators into your garden. These include:
These creatures can be attracted to your garden by keeping a source
of water nearby, such as a pond, and by growing plants that attract
them. There are also some household items that fight against insects,
such as hot peppers and garlic, as well as insecticidal soaps.
Many diseases spread because the site of the garden does not drain
well or does not allow for good air circulation. Another way to prevent
disease is to start with disease resistant plants and plant them in
Besides diseases and insects, another annoying and frustrating
problem faced by organic gardeners is weeds. Organic mulch can act as a
weed barrier, but for even better protection put a layer of cardboard,
construction paper, or newspaper under the mulch. Spreading a layer of
corn meal gluten to slow the growth of weeds is another idea. Do this
early in the season before planting.
Lastly, for weed control there is also the trusty hoe. Regular
hoeing and hand pulling the weeds will help a great deal, and it
requires no sprays that can hurt your family or the environment.
Overall, persistence will beat the weeds for good after a few seasons
of hoeing and pulling.
Organic gardening is an excellent way to assure that your plants
will be free and clear of all pesticides and, if taken care of
properly, will be as healthy as possible. Organic gardening may require
more time and care than regular gardening, but your family and the
environment will greatly benefit.