All right, Tonya. So we just got finished learning about earthworms. Now we’re gonna talk about organic gardening. The two go together a little bit– – Yes, absolutely. – Wow. So I have a couple of questions for you about
organic gardening. What do we mean by organic gardening? ‘Cause we hear the term all the time, but
what does it mean? – It’s a moving target. It means different things to different people. So it means one thing to a farmer who’s trying
to grow commercially to sell their vegetables in a grocery store and have an organic label
on there. But today we’re not gonna get that technical. We’re just gonna deal with what the average
vegetable gardener in their backyard would consider growing organically. So that just means using all-natural products,
and trying to reduce the amount of pesticides that they use in general. – Okay. So what is the most important thing to know
about gardening naturally, or organically? – I would say that prevention is key. The most important thing in my opinion, is
if you’re gonna try to limit your use of chemicals, is that you set yourself up for success from
the beginning. Good cultural practices. Because you don’t wanna wait until you have
a large problem to deal with, and then you’re limited on what you can use to combat the
problem. – Okay, so let’s go back. Naturally versus organic, though. What do we mean by naturally? – Well, non man-made chemicals, for the most
part. – [Chris] Okay, so it’s natural. – Yes. – Okay, I got you. All right, so what are some things you can
do to prevent disease in your garden? Because of course, you think about it, we’ve
had a lot of rains recently, over the past month. We’re getting a lot of calls at the office
about diseases, so how do we prevent those? – Right, you want to try to prevent your disease
before you have it, because once you have it, there’s not a whole lot you can do about
a fungal disease. So the first thing you could do is, grow varieties
that have disease resistance in their genetic make-up. So, start out with a tomato plant that’s already
resistant to some of your fungal diseases. Of course, that usually eliminates most of
your heirlooms, but if you’re not interested in growing the heirloom, or you’re just starting
out trying to grow organically, I would suggest start with a plant that has some disease resistance
built in. And then when you plant your garden, you want
to make sure that you space things far enough apart so that you get good air circulation,
and good sunlight penetration. That’s gonna help draw out the moisture, because
moisture is gonna breed your fungal problems, your fungal spores. Like you were talking about with the wet weather. Another thing you wanna do is, a lot of people
don’t think about mulching their vegetable garden, but mulching your vegetable garden
can go a long way in disease prevention, because it provides a layer between your soil surface
and your plant leaves, so when you water, you’re not splashing fungal spores onto the
leaves of your plants. Another thing you can do is practice crop
rotation. That’s very important. And what we mean by crop rotation is that
you don’t plant the same plant in the same spot year after year after year. So you don’t put your tomatoes in your same
spot year after year. You want to put them on a three or four year
rotation with other plants. One way to remember it is legume, root, leaf,
and fruit. So, you have different plant families that
you are moving around, you can do it in a circular pattern, or however way that you
have designed it in your garden plan, but you don’t want to put the same things in the
same spots, because you’ll get a build-up of fungal, you could get a build-up of fungal
material that particularly enjoy, for instance, peppers or eggplant. So you want to vary what you’re planting in
that same spot. – So you mentioned crop rotation for disease
purpose, but how about for insect prevention? – Yeah, you could do that too. For insect prevention the first thing you
wanna do is scout. You wanna scout your plants. You wanna get familiar with your garden, and
be out there every day looking around. Know what a squash bug egg looks like. Know what an aphid looks like. If you’re out there actively looking for problems,
you can catch insect populations before they get out of control, and then you feel like
you have to use something heavy to kill them. If you have a light infestation, picking off
the eggs of the stuff. Or you know, spraying it down to get the aphids
off, or even using a sponge and soapy water to get rid of things in the early beginning
stages. So scouting your plants. Also, don’t kill your beneficial insects. Your beneficial insects like the ladybug. The ladybug kills, eats aphids. So make sure that you don’t kill your ladybugs,
and you need to know what the larval stage of the ladybug looks like, because it undergoes
a metamorphosis. Most people don’t know what the larval ladybug
looks like and they’ll kill it inadvertently. And tomato hornworms, if you see one with
little white egg sacs all over its back, you wanna leave that one alone, because it’s breeding
more beneficial wasps to go out and kill your other tomato hornworms. And then there are other things that are harder
to control, like the squash vine borer. That’s a very difficult one to control, but
one thing you can do, maybe not with 100% success, but you can try to cover up the stems
of the squash vines. It’s called a barrier method, or exclusion
method. You could either cover the stems with mulch,
or keep on wrapping ’em with aluminum foil. I’ve done that myself, but that’s kind of
a bummer. Yeah, ’cause you have to constantly go back,
and it’s not fool-proof. Cover the stems with mulch to provide a barrier
between the squash vine borer and the squash plant. Those are some things you can do for insect
prevention. – So what are some organic things you can
use if you have a problem to address? – Okay, well I brought some things to show
you today. The first one is an insecticidal soap. This is very, kind of a lightweight stuff
for your soft-bodied insects, like spider-mites and aphids, and those type of things. Probably not gonna work on your squash bugs,
but for light infestations you can use an insecticidal soap, it’s very safe. I brought some Bti to show you. These are called Bti dunks, and this is actually,
if you have a rain barrel that you’re using to irrigate your garden with, you can put. Bti is a soil-born organism that, you just
crumble some of this up in the top of your rain barrel, and it controls mosquitoes. So that’s a way to keep a rain barrel to water
your plants without the mosquitoes. You can also use a different type of Bti to
kill any kind of caterpillar that you have, like your hornworms and such. I did bring, this is horticultural oil. We use oil a lot of times on our fruit trees
and things, when they’re dormant, to kill scale. What an oil does, is it coats the back of
the scale, or the other insects with oil, so they can’t breathe, because a lot of insects,
they breathe through spiracles in their back. If you coat them over, they can’t breathe
and they die. So we have this horticultural and dormant
spray oil that we can use on our trees and shrubs, especially if you’re growing fruit
trees. Let’s see. I brought some neem oil, comes from the neem
tree. Neem oil has a variety of uses. It can be used as an insecticide, as a growth
regulator. It messes up their ability to reproduce. And it can make them grow kind of in strange
ways, so that you can, maybe not kill them, but keep the population from getting larger. Some things just because it is an oil it will
kill, just like the scale we just talked about, suffocating them through their back. Neem oil has also been used successfully to
prevent powdery mildew. Let’s see, I brought this. This is a combination thing, controls insects
and fungal diseases. It contains sulfur, and that’s the part for
fungal, and it contains a pyrethrin, and that’s your insecticide part. Now this is a little bit heavier insecticide,
and maybe would take care of your squash bugs, whereas insecticidal soap probably won’t. So if you got some other things a little harder
to control, you can go to the pyrethrins. And pyrethrin comes from chrysanthemum extract. And then I brought this diatomaceous earth,
it can be used for a lot of different things. But in my landscape I have problems with slugs
on my lettuce, trying to get my lettuce, and also my bedding plants in my front yard, so
I use this for slug control. – All right Tonya, we appreciate that. Good stuff. Thank you much.