There are two things I always wanted to have in my life. One of them is dogs, and the other is a garden. Growing up, we didn’t have money for a dog, and living in an apartment for most of my life, we didn’t have the opportunity to plant a garden. Last year I finally got to plant a garden and I went BIG and loved every second of it. I am so excited to get started this year and Spring just ins’t cooperating yet!
There is something completely awesome about planing a seed, nurturing it, watching it grow, and then feeding your family with the results. Last year the ‘menu’ consisted of: lettuce, jalapeno peppers, hot wax peppers, sweet peppers (red, yellow, and green), long hot peppers, carrots, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, green beans, onions, radishes, rosemary, thyme, mint, horseradish, cantaloupe, dill, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, and parsley. We have three raised garden beds the one in the picture is 6 feet by 3 feet and we have two of those and one 4 feet by 4 feet bed. I also have containers (Earth Boxes) that I have used for garlic, strawberries, and even zucchini.
Since last year was my first attempt there was a learning curve – we had a stretch of crazy heat that killed the corn and beans (we still got a few things to eat before they were no good), and I spent quite a bit of time battling grubs and other bugs who wanted to partake of the deliciousness. I was dead set on completely organic so I tried to stay away from pesticides of any kind and used only natural products (and insects) to treat the problem. Considering how much we actually got to harvest and eat – I think I did pretty well, although I killed about 3000 lady bugs in the process.
I purchased two praying mantis egg cases and watched in amazement as they hatched (about 500 mantis babies from each) – I was lucky enough to be out tending to the garden as they hatched, most of the time people miss it because it happens fast. Most of them either died or left, but each garden bed was home to at least three that survived and took care of the entire garden (they also got huge). I never once saw a single aphid and nothing ate any of my plants on the surface so they did what they are supposed to do! Those remaining mantis’ created egg cases (we have three of them now) and hopefully they will hatch once the weather gets warmer (a consistent stretch of 70+ degree weather is what they need). I also tried releasing lady bugs, twice, but almost all of them died, and the survivors flew away. I’m not sure what killed them, but I think one of the ‘organic’ sprays I used for flies may be the culprit. I also purchased a ‘home’ for carpenter bees – but I put it out too late last year for them to move in, hopefully they move in this year!
I did a lot of research on how to plant my herbs so they worked as natural pesticides; tomato worms don’t like dill, marigolds serve to keep all kinds of pests away while at the same time attracting bees, pepper plants grow best when they are planted next to each other (they like to ‘hold hands’)… it’s just an amazing practice to see how nature works up close and you get to eat the results!
Do you have a garden? What kind of garden do you have (raised beds, containers, traditional garden plot)? What means do you use to combat pests?