Barbara: I just bought Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening: Month By Month. What an amazing resource this is! A month-by-month guide to organic gardening, it’s full-to-bursting with everything you need to know about growing beautiful, healthy plants.
Even though this guide is written for my region, I would encourage the rest of you to consider it for the advice Pat gives on plant cultivation. Our climate and gardening calendars may be different, but the tips and organic recipes for feeding your plants are well worth the price of admission. Her catalog of organic fertilizer ingredients and how to use them is the best I’ve ever seen.
A little plug for organic gardening — the most important thing to understand is that if you grow plants in the right place, give them the right amount of water (neither too much, nor too little), and feed them well you will have gorgeous plants that can shrug off most pests. (We’re talking bugs here. I make no such claims for rabbits, deer, gophers, etc.)
Here’s a grab bag of tips from Pat’s book.
Pat Welsh’s Quick Tip #1 — Use Paint Buckets for Garden Tasks
Pat recommends keeping several small, plastic paint buckets around your garden for measuring, mixing and carrying fertilizer. She also points out that they’re great for carrying kitchen peelings to the compost bin and birdseed to the feeder. I find them useful for catching the random prunings and deadheading that I inevitably do as I walk through the garden in the morning.
Pat Welsh’s Quick Tip #2 — Protect Bean and Corn Sprouts from Birds
Save those little green berry baskets (the ones strawberries come in) and put one over each planted seed. This will keep the birds from eating your seeds. By the time the sprouts have grown to touch the top of the basket the birds will have lost interest.
Pat Welsh’s Tip Quick Tip # 3 — Encourage Ladybugs to Stay Put
When you buy ladybugs to release into the garden, they more often than not fly away. Pat says to put them in the fridge for a couple of hours to slow their metabolism. Time their stay in the cold so that you are releasing them at dusk. Place them low on the plants and, if it’s dry, provide dishes of water at the base of the plant with a little rock in the bowl for the ladybugs to perch on while they drink. This, plus some yummy pests will encourage then to stay in your garden.
Here’s a link to Pat’s website.