Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Natural garden tips: from deer and rabbit control to lush foliage

Have you started thinking about your garden yet? Have you done any planting? Last summer I started a vegetable garden in containers on my balcony. With a large space outside my bedroom door, I thought it was the perfect option for growing things, since the wildlife down on the ground tends to eat everything in sight. So I planted tomatoes, zucchini, peas, cabbage, 12 varieties of lettuce, mint, parsley, basil, chives, carrots and corn. Surprisingly enough, the corn did well, producing a dozen ears, until one day it got hit with plague of some kind. What a disappointment that was!

But I'm going to give it another try this year. My husband and I bought some seeds over the weekend and I spent Saturday planting snow peas in 4 containers outside and 7 different vegetables and herbs in an indoor mini "greenhouse." As I look out my office window, I can see the pea containers perched on the ledge of the balcony and my mouth waters thinking that in less than 70 days, I'll be steaming them and serving them with a bit of brown butter. Yum. While they haven't begun sprouting yet, the sweet bell peppers and some of the lettuce has. I'll wait another month to plant the silver queen corn and some of the other veggies I bought. After all, I live in western PA where we've been known to have frost in May.

Since I'm assuming some of you enjoy gardening as well, I thought I'd share some eco-friendly gardening tips with you.
  • To keep deer away, check out my article on about Outdoor Foliar Feed Plus -- Garlic from Happy Earth Lawn and Garden. You can also go to your local gardening center and ask about Deer Scram, an all natural, biodegradable organic product that works well at keeping deer and rabbits away. We discovered this product late in the season last year and, when we keep up with it, found it to be effective in keeping the deer away from our plants. The Outdoor Foliar Feed Plus -- Garlic is a spray for the foliage and keeps away other pests as well, while Deer Scram gets sprinkled on the ground around the plants.
  • Another option for rabbit control is dried sulfur. Just sprinkle it around the edges of your garden.
  • If you have problems with worms in your tomatoes, simply plant dill close by.
  • Raccoons steer clear of cayenne pepper, so work it into the dirt around areas you want to keep them out of (such as your pond where they love to snack on koi and goldfish). Powdered detergent will work as well, but you might end up with some serious suds during a hard rain!
  • Insects tend to stay away from spearmint, so plant some in your garden as a natural insecticide. But be warned: spearmint can be invasive.
  • Reach in your cupboard for a natural alternative to Miracle Gro: Just mix a teaspoon each of baking powder and Epsom salts with a half teaspoon of household ammonia to one gallon of room-temperature water. Water monthly with this amazing growth formula and watch what happens!
  • You'll see greener leaves on your plants when you add 3 or 4 drops of castor oil to the dirt.
  • I spread my used coffee grounds around my flowering shrubs, but you can also pour any leftover coffee on your geraniums and watch the blooms multiply!
  • Pine cones strategically placed around your plants will keep neighborhood cats from using your flower gardens as litter boxes.
  • Finally, save your egg shells. I'm using some of mine to grow seedlings. The calcium and other nutrients are good for plants. You can also crush them and add them to your soil or potting mix. Just make sure they're crushed in small pieces, because egg shells break down very slowly in large pieces. If you soak the shells in a jug of water, you can pour the nutrient-rich solution directly on and around your plants. Always wash your egg shells before adding them to your soil or compost pile.
Here's to healthy eating this summer with homegrown produce and lush, beautiful flower gardens...the natural way.

Keeping it green,



  1. This is really difficult to read becuase it is green on green and I am not even old enough to be a grandma!

  2. I darkened the font...thank you for taking the time to let me know if was difficult for you to read. No one else has complained, but I appreciate your pointing this out to me.


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