How is your garden growing? Are you looking for ways to protect and enhance your garden?
Well, Kemi from Homemaking Organized and I are back, this month to talk about that very thing in our June Garden Party Link Up!
Due to the wild weather of the last 45 days, mine has needed a LOT of protection of various types. We’ve had hail. Bugs (the non-beneficial kind). Thunderstorms. And that’s just in addition to the usual suspects we try to work against!
Here are 5 things I’ve been doing to protect our garden, that you can incorporate into your own. Enjoy!
You must, must, must mulch. Mulch is a super-inexpensive and easy way to accomplish great things for your plants. It can be hay, ground-up bark, or anything else you can spread out over your garden beds. It:
- Helps hold in moisture
- Keeps you from having to water too often
- Protects your soil and plants from disease, which can settle in unprotected soil
- Prevents wind erosion
This is really good for your plants; especially in the early days when they’re building root systems or dealing with transplant shock.
But avoid inorganic fertilizers. They can contain dioxins; you don’t always know the heavy metals that they’re putting into your soil and your plants (like lead, arsenic, and other things you’d rather not ingest); and they can even use recycled toxic wastes from corporations. Yuck!
Instead, find an organic fertilizer. These release nutrients gradually over time and aren’t harmful to the soil. They don’t introduce chemicals into the water supply. And, they’re not harmful to kids or wildlife. If you’re trying to grow an organic garden, you’ll probably want to gravitate to this as well.
I didn’t use fertilizers for years, but last year had some unhealthy tomato plants and visited our natural garden supplier for advice. They recommended a fantastic and healthy fertilizer that helped all my plants, but particularly strengthened the weaker one, which ended up with great tomato production.
3. Chicken Wire
In our garden, we’ve had a couple of pests to deal with: cats and nonbeneficial insects. Naturally, I don’t want either one to be in my garden.
One summer, we had a neighborhood cat (who, I grant you, is a cute kitty) who decided that my garden was its litter box away from home. Ick! We did some research and discovered that chicken wire was the perfect solution. You simply lay it across the bed or staple it to the edges of your raised garden bed, and its texture keeps cats from digging in the garden. Obviously, you’ll need to lay it down early in the season, before the plants sprout or get too big. But they grow through it beautifully and you can always clip areas (for squash plants, in particular) open to give plants a little room. And, it keeps the kitties away!
4. Organic pesticide (use sparingly!)
We’ve also had trouble with little fleas in the past. They attacked early leaves and left lots of holes in them. Obviously, that’s an issue, because the less green area on the plant, the less photosynthesis will go on. And, the plant will struggle.
Solution? An organic pesticide made from garlic, onion, peppers. You can find our recipe at DIY Homemade Organic Pesticide. I use it every year! Just scroll to the bottom of the linked post for the recipe. It is FABULOUS at getting rid of those little flea things. (The scent is also VERY unappealing to cats!) I put it in a spray bottle, and usually just need to use it early in the season.
Just don’t use it all summer, because you don’t want to inhibit beneficial insects. Once or twice ought to do it. You can keep a jar in the refrigerator in case you need to use it again later in the season. (Just be sure it’s tightly covered; it is pungent!)
5. Coverings in case of weather
We have had (like much of the U.S. this summer) the craziest weather. Normally, we get a couple of hard hails and then we’re done. This year, we have had thunderstorm upon thunderstorm. And not just gentle rains either.
But tarps can be an amazing help!
In the first hailstorm of the season, we didn’t get out quickly enough. We finally got out and covered our peony bushes, but when it was all over we’d lost about half of the stems and blossoms. Since then, we’ve kept the tarps handy. Now, we just watch the weather forecasts and cover the gardens preventatively. We’ve covered the plants before bed, before lunch, and after lunch. But we’ve been able to save a lot!
We’ve also discovered that binder clips (yes, the ones you get at Office Depot) are a great help in securing the tarps to the fence or the tomato cages. You don’t want them to blow away, after all!
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the garden. It has taken a lot more work than usual, just because of the frequent storms we’ve encountered. But I still have high hopes for a beautiful harvest, later on!
Be sure to head over to Kemi’s Homemaking Organized for her tips on protecting your garden! And link up your garden posts with us!