Carl Grimm, Metro Natural Gardening and Toxics Reduction Specialist had advice for ridding your garden of pests and disease the natural way!
Copper barriers keep slimy pests away from plants
Sadly, slugs and snails can make short work of tender seedlings, strawberries and some flowers. Summer is the time to get ready for the onslaught that moist fall days will likely bring. A strip of copper tape or mesh attached to planters, raised beds or individual plant protectors keeps slugs out – as long as the plant does not grow to form a bridge with its leaves to the outside of the barrier. Be sure you remove any slugs or snails from the inside of the barrier.
Traps and nighttime hunting can help
Since slugs and snails are nocturnal, you can find them easily on or near your plants with the help of a flashlight at night. Once found, snip them in half with your pruners or drop them in soapy water. Alternatively, you could harvest the snails, feed ‘em cornmeal and eat ‘em as escargot – with lots of garlic and butter of course. But you may not want to do that with the slugs. Simple traps made of wood or pottery – or versions comprising a saucer of beer – can also help reduce their numbers.
Iron phosphate baits are much safer than metaldehyde
The new nontoxic slug baits based on iron phosphate can be sprinkled around affected plants as part of a safe strategy for slug and snail control. They will need to be reapplied about weekly.
Put powdery mildew in its place
If your rose, dogwood or zucchini leaves appear covered with blotches of white dust, they likely have powdery mildew. This is a fungal disease that generally does not damage vegetable crop production, but can stunt roses, apples and other plants. There are several safe options for addressing a current problem and plenty of resistant varieties to consider planting for later.
Pruning and proper watering are the keys to disease prevention
Simply prune off the affected foliage and dispose of it in your yard waste bin. This reduces the chance of spreading and improves air circulation and sun penetration. Watering in the morning is another key strategy – it washes off the spores and gives leaves time to dry by nightfall. If you have an ongoing problem on a tree or shrub, sulfur-based sprays are an effective, less-toxic alternative to more-hazardous chemical fungicides.
Natural gardening works – just say, “No,” to toxic pesticides
You can have a great garden without using harmful garden chemicals. It’s good for children, pets and the planet.
For a free copy of the booklet Natural Gardening, call Metro Recycling Information at 503-234-3000, or click here.