Since we live in Phoenix, AZ, there are a lot of strikes against us when we garden. The soil is terrible, the heat is terrible, there are weird bugs and water is expensive. Also, although my husband and I no longer have any pets, we do have grandchildren who frequent our backyard, so we don't want anything harmful or toxic in our garden. So we try to garden organically in the easiest way possible! I thought today I would share some tips with you about how we do earth friendly and child friendly things to keep our garden healthy and thriving!
- That is a picture of the garden when we just put it in and the plants are tiny. That was a month ago. Shortly after this, my husband added straw as a mulch to help keep the moisture in the soil and to keep down weeds. It has worked really well so far. Our tomato plants are now huge! Look!
- As the weather here gets hotter and we start using the AC, we will use the free water that it pulls from the air and drains out of the unit to water our garden. This is as simple as adding a hose to the drain of the unit. You will be surprised at how much water you can get in a day from your AC unit. That will really save on your water bill!
- One of the problems with our soil is that it is low in nutrients, such as calcium. A consistent problem is blossom end rot on tomatoes. Lack of calcium is a cause of this problem. One organic solution is to save your egg shells and grind them up and put them at the base of your plants.
- Another way to add calcium, and the one I have been using this year, is to use my expired milk, diluted with water and pour it around the base of the plants and then water as usual. I wouldn't spend money buying milk specifically for this purpose, because you can buy additives more cheaply, but using the last bit of milk in the jug or milk that has gone bad is a good way not to waste the milk that is no longer good for consumption and it will add a small amount of nitrates and other nutrients to the soil as well as the calcium. I guess time will tell about how it solves the blossom end rot problem. But I have heard from others that it works quite well.
- Attract good bugs that eat aphids, etc with flowering plants. We were so excited one day when we saw a ladybug on our plants!
- We were having a problem with some sort of little gnat-like bug in our garden. I mixed a couple of Tablespoons of vegetable oil, and couple of tsp. of dish soap in a spray bottle and then filled the bottle with water. I spray it all over my plants over and under the leaves. It has really helped to solve the problem. As you can see, our plants are healthy! I've also read that some essential oils, such as a citrus oil mixed in with the recipe help with the bug problems. My granddaughter can help me in the garden and I don't have to worry about her coming in contact with toxins!
Now our tomatoes are getting loaded with baby tomatoes! I can hardly wait! I love garden fresh tomatoes! I don't care what the current fad is about nightshade vegetables, I love them anyway!
I hope these simple tips will help you have a successful garden. Let's face it, we don't all have hours to spend in the garden, but this little bit of effort can help you have some success and the results are so rewarding!