Growing Plants Naturally
Gardening should be easy, enjoyable, and relaxing. Make it easy on yourself, and better for the critters in your garden, by following these tips:
DON'T USE INSECTICIDES - butterflies and their caterpillars are insects, and insects make up a good part of the hummingbird diet, so you don't want to spray insecticides in your natural garden.
Aphids are often an early spring problem in the flower garden. Use your garden hose to wash them off of your plants. Ladybugs will eventually move in and lay their eggs on your aphid plagued plants. The ladybug larvae, that kind of look like little alligators, will take care of your aphid woes.
USE COMPOST INSTEAD OF CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS - 2-3 inches of compost applied once a year will do so much for your soil, and healthy soil will grow healthy plants. The compost can just be spread on top of your soil where it will break down naturally and become part of your soil, thanks to earthworms and other soil organisms, and it will eventually provide all of the nutrients that your plants need. In the process, it will improve clay soil or sandy soil, which will further add to the health of your plants. Try keep the compost an inch or two away from the stalks of the plants to help avoid causing the plants to rot.
Some very heavy bloomers, annuals, and vegetables may need extra nutrients. Look for organic fertilizers for this need, as many soil organisms are sensitive to chemical fertilizers.
CONTROL WEEDS WITH MULCH, NOT CHEMICALS - That 2-3 inches of compost mentioned above will do wonders to keep down the weeds. If your garden is weedy already, try putting down several layers of newspaper under the mulch to help smother the weeds. Find a little time each week to pull or scratch out any new weed seedlings.
Try this no-dig labor saving trick when you're ready to convert some of your lawn to a garden: In the fall put down 5-6 layers of newspaper right on top of the grass and weeds. (Do this when the wind is not blowing!) Cover the newspaper with 3 inches of compost. In the spring remove any weeds that grew through, there shouldn't be very many. Plant!