I’ve long been a big fan of organic gardening and am learning more about the benefits of companion planting all the time as we read up on what has worked for others as well as experiencing our own triumphs, large and small. By ‘we’ I mean my youngest daughter Elise and I. She’s my right arm in the garden.
We don’t use chemical pesticides or fungicides. In the past, whenever I did finally break down and spray some skull and crossbones stuff, I felt awful when I discovered a little lady bug or frolicking baby praying mantis I’d just zapped. I’ve used brews of garlic and safe gardening oils, along with baking soda to discourage pests and diseases.
The last year or two we also discovered the organic product called Neem which I use sparingly (while Elise urges even greater caution) to fight our most voracious pests and blights with moderate success. Neem isn’t supposed to harm beneficial insects, only those that feed on plants, which rules out all desirables except for moth/butterfly larvae, but as we are encouraging butterflies to visit our garden(s) we didn’t want to kill their offspring.
Mostly we rely on enriching the soil and keeping the earthworms happy by mulching with compost and hay, anything that rots, and using companion plants. Living on a farm we have access to the manure too, always a plus to the garden, especially if its well broken down before applying. If you’re taking notes, we also like to spray liquid sea weed or fish emulsion on plant leaves to give an extra boost. However, this attracts the cats and farm dogs to the garden. Our favorite companion plants include radishes and nasturtiums, but I won’t go into all of that now. For more on my gardening story and many others, buy the book. I’m on page 205.
*Pics of the garden