by Jennifer Sierra
Many people enjoy gardening but don’t realize the chemicals they use can be harmful to the environment. There are safe, all natural alternatives to those chemicals and pests that plague our gardens every year. Chemicals found in Roundup, for instance, may cause genetic damage in humans and one French study found increased miscarriages as well as headaches and dizziness occurred after coming into contact with these chemicals.
Ants are an important part of the garden soil health because they loosen soil but many times they can get into our homes and be annoying. To safely get rid of them, you can pour boiling water on their hill. To keep them at bay, clean you house with white vinegar. Not only is vinegar odorless once it dries, it is a great disinfectant and it is safe around your entire family including pets. Ants don’t like to walk on areas that have been cleaned with vinegar. Boric Acid is also a good deterrent and can be sprinkled around in small, shallow containers or along windows and doors as traps. Once the ants eat the acid, which they will, it will kill them. Boric acid is also not toxic to humans.
Strips of aluminum foil, placed under vegetables in your garden, will confuse insects and deter them from harming your crops. You may also spray your plants with soapy water. It doesn’t harm the plants but it will suffocate insects. Another solution is to plant Marigolds. They are a natural insect repellent. Bay leaves, Bee Balm, Basil, Citronella, Catnip (which may be more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET), Lavender, Lemongrass, Lemon Thyme, Rosemary and Peppermint are also effective insect repellents.
To help eliminate weeds, they too can be killed with boiling water. Another safe alternative is to place clear plastic on them on a warm, sunny day. The plastic basically cooks them and kills the plants. Think of it as a super hot greenhouse oven. Pull them up by their roots BEFORE they start to flower and seed. You can also pour salt on them but watch out because the salt can kill other plants so only use this in areas where you don’t want anything to grow. Pouring vinegar on them is also a good way to eliminate them.
Conserve water, please. Even though we have seen more than our fair share of water in the Ohio River Valley lately, there is no reason we shouldn’t conserve water. You never know when we will be in the same shape Californians are in right now. They are in a severe drought and have been for several years. Water your lawn in the coolest part of the day. Only run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth and use water efficient appliances. There are water barrels you can buy at places like Sam’s Club that even have spigots for your hose. Set these, often attractive, barrels up around a downspout and run your downspout from your gutters right into it. Roof water runs into the barrel and then you have FREE water for your plants.