Gentle Gardening Arsenal

Me: “I think I’ll go out and pick strawberries in my own backyard!  How heavenly….. tra-la-la-la-la…”


Bugs, mice, and birds, “Mmmm, I just love me some free, organic strawberries – I hate all those nasty chemicals they use around the corner!  Think I’ll pitch my tent and invite the extended family!”  Actually, because I have a little of this and a little of that planted in close proximity, I do not get hoardes of pests, but enough to diminish my return, so….

How to be relatively organic and still get a good yield on all your time and labor?

I now have 5 substances that I use regularly to reduce pests and sickness in my garden.   And they are!….

#1) DIY Insecticidal Soap
The newest addition for loyal readers who are familiar with some of my others is DIY insecticidal soap.  You CAN purchase insecticidal soap but you can also add 2 Tablespoons of liquid Dr. Bronner’s castile or peppermint soap to a quart of warm water and spray that on your garden.  Further instructions – like making sure to get the underside of the leaves, can be found here.

The DIY version is much cheaper without nasty ingredients.  Insecticidal soap can also be used indoors and will not kill ladybugs.

#2) Urine.  You heard it folks, urine.  I (or some other member of my family) pee into a 1/2 gallon pitcher, then I add a little ammonia, a little dish soap and fill it with water.  This gets poured around the perimeter of a garden bed which is being invaded by mammalian type creatures, like rabbits and moles.  It must be renewed after a rain, but is helpful.  For moles, I find it even more helpful to use urine in the pitcher and then just add water to half full, find mounds left by the buggers, stick a trowel in, pull back to reveal the hole and pour it right in there.  Especially if the mound or hole is near the garden.  The rain revealed this particular tunnel beneath my garden

Rotten worm eater!

Rotten worm eater!


#3) Garlic Pepper Spray.  This is easy to make and is very helpful eliminating insects and dissuading other nibblers.  Click here to read a prior post with instructions to make this spray of water, garlic and pepper with the caveat that I am no longer going to use a coffee filter to strain, but a nut milk bag and then a coffee filter if necessary.

#4) Neem Oil.  This I buy.  It is awesome.  It is used as an insecticide and I have been told it is helpful with some diseases as well.  Apparently it is used for many medicinal purposes as well, which I thought was interesting, and you can read about that here.  But otherwise, I just mix according to package directions and spray.  I buy the concentrate and mix myself – much cheaper!

#5) baking soda and milk to prevent mildew diseases.  Here is the recipe I use:

1/2 cup milk
4.5 cups water
1/4 tsp baking soda

This is to be sprayed on the leaves in the morning before the sun is directly striking the leaves.  I have found it very helpful with mildew diseases.

There is my arsenal….. along with some netting to keep the birds out of the strawberries

You can just make out the netting in the foreground.

You can just make out the netting in the foreground.

I find that these methods work if I am diligent and also if I fertilize well with compost (fast and easy cold composting tutorial here) and sometimes I use Plant Tone – an organic fertilizer or a fish & seaweed fertilizer.  Happy, healthy toxin-free plants and soil help make happy, healthy toxin-free (or less toxin-full) people!

What gentle methods do you use in your garden?


8 responses

  1. But do you have anything for chipmunks? We laid a wonderful patio a few years ago and now we have bricks sinking in various places because the chippies are burrowing beneath it!

    • I think the whole urine down the hole thing might work on any creature. It sure would get me out of my house! 😉 Good luck! If you can’t find the hole, try pouring it around the edge of the bricks in question.

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