Crash Course in Organic Gardening

I must first start this off by saying that I am VERY new to organic gardening and gardening in general so this is also a learning experience for me.  My husband and I made the choice to grow organically for many reasons, the obvious being that we want to limit the amount of chemicals we ingest through food. If we are afforded beautiful summer and fall months here in Buffalo that allow us to grow our own food this is what we do. Its economically and fiscally responsible and it makes you feel great knowing that YOU grew this beautiful veggie that you’re about to eat and you know EXACTLY how it was grown. However, organic gardening has its many challenges, namely managing pests biologically.  Our garden this year got a great start, we are pretty terrible at propagating seedlings so we enlisted a local organic certified farmer to grow our seedlings for us.  When we got our babies we planted them in nutrient rich well tilled soil and covered them with worm compost. Great beginnings are even more important when organically growing. Why? Well, healthy plants have the best chance of  warding off common garden pests. Pest such as aphids, mites, cabbage worms etc… will seek out plants that are already in peril because they are easy targets, weak, and still provide them with the “juice” they are looking for.  Despite having healthy plants, it is almost inevitable that some happy little bug will find its way to your organic love patch 🙂 Below are a few little buggers who’ve made our garden their happy home this year. IMG_0362

While checking on the garden some late afternoon I noticed that a few of our shishito pepper plants looked a little sad. The leaves were yellowing and curling in and upwards from the tip of the plant towards the stem. I immediately recognized the signs, and sure enough as soon as I flipped the leaf over a family of aphids were happily feeding.

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What we have here are tell tale holes in the greens.  You might think that these are from a pest that zooms in, eats and then zooms away keeping its identity under wraps unless you catch them in the act. Nope, all you have to do is flip the leaf over to reveal the true culprit.

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Hi! Im a loathed cabbage worm/cabbage looper!!  I like to eat your greens-All of them!!  If you notice a lot of white butterflies hanging around your garden and plenty of holes dabbling the leaves of your edible greens this little guy is most likely hiding out under the leaves and feasting away.  So as an organic gardener what can you do? Well, what I would suggest is to check on your garden every day, yes EVERYDAY.  By keeping a keen eye on your plants you can detect subtle changes and catch an invasion before it gets really out of hand. For example, I was able to catch the aphids very early and the population was small enough for me to just use my hands to smoosh them and their eggs away. For the cabbage worm you can hand pick them off as well, but there is a bacterium available that these worms do not like that can be easily applied to the plants. It’s called Bacillus thuringiensis. We also use Captain Jacks Deadbug Brew which contains the all natural bacterium originally sourced from an abandoned rum distillery in the the caribbean named Spinosad. Both of these are great options for pest control in organic gardening. Happy Gardening!

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