Monthly Archives: May 2015

Plants that Benefit the Compost Pile.

compost-pilePlants that assist each other to grow well, repel insects or even other plants when grown next to each other is called companion planting and can be a sustainable and eco-friendly way to improve and protect your garden against unwanted pests and disease.

Chromatography has been used to explain why some plants like or dislike being planted with other plants. It is possible to make a specific chromatographic test to find out why, or if at all, a plant is helping or hindering its neighbors. Chromatography has also been used to prove that plants do significantly better with compost than without.

Certain plants added to a compost pile can assist it to break down quicker or add nutrients to it. Dandelion is high in iron and absorbs two to three times as much of this mineral as any other herb/weed.
Nettles are also high in iron and will help start or speed up the fermentation process of a compost pile. Like comfrey, nettles have a carbon-nitrogen ratio similar to manure.
Salad burnett is rich in magnesium, sheep sorrel is high in phosphorus, chicory, goosegrass and bulbous buttercup are high in potassium. Horsetail, ribwort and bush vetch store cobalt and thistles have trace elements of copper.
So if you know your soil is lacking in some of these nutrients, make a conscious effort to add these plants to your compost pile where they will help.

Natural Insect and Disease Control: Hydrogen Peroxide.

Hydrogen-Peroxide-Kitchen-Cleaner-Maid-SailorsThe chemical compound H2O2 is more commonly known in households across America as hydrogen peroxide. It is similar to water — H20 — and when applied to the soil, breaks down into water and oxygen. At low strengths, it can provide an effective barrier to many of the pests that traditionally attack gardens. It is also an effective sterilizer for garden tools, plant pots and trays, and other items you wish to reuse in the garden without danger of disease.

Soaking seeds in a mild solution of hydrogen peroxide may prevent animals from digging them up and eating them, and may also keep worms and insects from attacking them. Spraying leaves consistently after rain can discourage pests from eating leaves and fruits, and does not leave a harmful residue on edibles. You can even spray hydrogen peroxide into a hole before planting to protect the roots of the plant. A good solution is 1 ounce of 40 percent strength hydrogen peroxide per gallon of fresh water. This may also work as a preventative for blights, mildews and other diseases.

Root rot is caused by a variety of opportunistic fungi that attack the roots of plants, usually in environments with too much water and too little oxygen around the plant roots. This weakens them and makes them susceptible to attack, whereas increasing oxygen levels and decreasing water can reverse the problem. You can combat root rot, which causes slimy root systems and dropping leaves, by watering plants with hydrogen peroxide rather than water. The substance breaks down into one water molecule and one available oxygen atom, increasing the amount of oxygen around the roots.

Beneficial Bugs: Robber Flies

robber_flies05Order: Diptera. Family: Syrphidae

Some robber flies are chunky and look a bit like bumble bees, but in general, they are slender and look a bit like damsel flies. They eat flies, bees, beetles and grasshoppers by dropping down on them from above. Robber flies are also rarely affected by other insect’s natural defenses.

The face of a robber fly looks bearded and like it is hollow between their bulging eyes. Usually 1/5 to 1 1/4 inches in size, they are usually found in meadows across the U.S. The larvae or maggots live in decaying wood or in the soil and feed on beetle larvae.