View Full Version : Pest control/building up soil??
09-09-09, 08:52 PM
I'm just starting up my first garden (hurrah!) and I'm after a few tips on natural pest control/companion planting.
All I know is marigold can ward off pests, but which kind of marigold is it? I have a few Calendula officinalis plants which I use medicinally [everybody should have this in their garden and in their herbal first aid kit - it does pretty much everything!], but are they also the ones that ward off the bugs?
Loving this gardening thing... I used to do a lot of weeding at home but I've never actually done much growing, beyond a basil or parsley on the windowsill in the kitchen.
Also, how do you build up the soil? Our soil is very clay-y and not that great (though the weeds certainly love it so it can't be that bad) so I need to find some good soil to build it with. Also need to start up a compost bin but not overly sure how you do that either!!
Help! I'm a poor herbal med student who needs cheap organic food and decent herbs to use, lol! :)
09-09-09, 08:54 PM
Oh oh, and growing things from seed... am I right in thinking you sow them in little pots or trays with soil from the garden and leave them indoors to sprout, and then replant them when they're decent-sized seedlings??
Also, any of you kiwis know of any good places to get heritage seeds from? I've got one site - just interested to see what else is out there. :)
09-09-09, 09:56 PM
Also, how do you build up the soil? Our soil is very clay-y and not that great (though the weeds certainly love it so it can't be that bad) so I need to find some good soil to build it with. Also need to start up a compost bin but not overly sure how you do that either!
Clay contains a lot of nutrients so no it is not bad but it is thick, sticky and not very manageable. When we lived in a house where the soil was predominently clay, we improved it a lot by adding compost and digging it in. We were there for five years and at the end of the five years the soil was just starting to become quite workable after adding compost each year. We were able to grow lots of our veges in it while we were improving it. The new owners now have the advantage of all our work. At least they are also vege growers. It would have been disheartenly to see it all turned back to lawn.
09-10-09, 12:39 PM
...I keep forgetting it's Spring for you down under....!:)
Our soil is also thick & muddy. What we do here is use compost and rich "black top" dressing. Our soil is so thick it would take years of turning for there to be anything workable to grow anything in for a garden!
I remember as a child, when my mother started her first garden, she spent 2 or 3 summers desperately turning and turning the muddy soil. Really poor drainage, until finally she just purchased compost and top dressing and said to heck with it ...:)
We were discussing herbs a few months back here, but I am not sure how far we progressed on the topic. I grow marigolds too, basil, rosemary, thyme,mint (keeps ants away!), sage, stevia, bay rum, aloe, juniper, chamomile, dill and tarragon. Most have fantastic healing properties as you know!
Let us know how you get on with your garden. I have such a small patch, but I make use of every inch!
09-10-09, 08:01 PM
Those sound brilliant! At the moment I've put in calendula, sage, turkish balm, common mint, broccolini, a mesclun salad leaf mix, perpetual spinach, oregano, french parsley, common parsley, and I've got a cherry tomato to go in as soon as I'm sure there won't be another cold snap that'll kill it. I also have some tomatoes and snow peas planted in seedling trays to grow from seed, so hopefully they work... now I'm trying to work out what else I want to grow!! Running out of space but these should work ok. I've got a stevia at my parents' house too I need to get off them but they live in another town so it's a bit trickier, and I'll probably put in some thyme, rosemary, celery, chillis, capsicum/bell pepper, carrots, peas and green beans along the fence, and maybe some kind of squash if there's room... yuuuuuuuuuuum.
09-10-09, 09:59 PM
How fantastic Diz! You are going to have quite a harvest! I can only grow herbs due to my small space, but I have a fabulous local green grocer, and my neighbor has a plot out of town where he brings me all kinds of veggies and soft fruit ( raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries) all summer! So far he has also brought me carrots, beets, onions,garlic, purple beans, merlot leaf lettuce, and in a few weeks on he brings taters, pumpkin and squash.
BTW did you decide to get some compost for your soil?
09-10-09, 10:15 PM
Yeah I will do. I'd like to make it myself ideally, but I need to get a bin and get it started and everything, so I may just buy some in the meantime to get it all going properly. :)
09-11-09, 07:47 AM
How large is your lot, Dizzy? Sounds like you've got "a lot" going on there! :)
09-11-09, 09:52 AM
Sorry, Dizzy, when I saw the title I thought it was an article and being tight for time, I gave it a pass because I'm pretty knowledgeable in that area.
Yes, the answer to improving the soil is compost and lots of it. A little googling will turn up plenty of how-to information, but in a nutshell, the richer the soil, the higher your plants will be in nutrients and the more resistant to pests and disease. You don't need to buy fancy equipment; a pile you turn once a month will do nicely. Peat moss is another good addition to lighten heavy clay soil & improve drainage.
Tomatoes and peppers (what you call capsicum?) have to be started 8-10 weeks before planting date. If you start your own seeds, best to buy a seed-starting soil mix. Garden soil sounds too clay-ey. plus you would have to steriize it to remove fungus & other bad stuff that can assail seedlings.
If you have the means, I would grow mesclun in a large shallow container near the kitchen. You harvest over and over when leaves are only a few inches; it's a pain to have to do that on the ground! Oh, and mint? Hope you planted that out behind the garage or something. It's terribly invasive.
Sounds like you have a good start. Have fun—it's a real kick to grow your own food!
09-13-09, 06:32 AM
Thanks for that!!
I've heard that about mint, but I'm not actually too worried about it being invasive... the more plants are in the soil, the better it seems to be, so I figure I'll let it spread, and then when I want to plant something else we can just pull part of it up (give it to friends maybe) and put something else in.
Anyway, the mesclun has been eaten by bugs and half dug up by the cat doing his business, so that was a fail... gonna get some more and put it in a pot methinks. With a ring of salt around the edge of it (the pot, not the plant) daily to keep the snails/slugs out. And the calendula there has also been eaten, so I think that patch is just going to be herbs like coriander and basil and mint to hopefully keep them out.
The other patch, on the other hand, is great! Surrounded by huge coriander plants and they seem to be keeping the bugs at bay, because the spinach has suddenly got huge, the calendula is doing great, the broccolini and rapini are getting bigger (not eaten anyway!), the sage is growing, the parsley is as big as ever... so that one is a success and will now be the basis of the full vege garden, with herbs elsewhere, except that wonderful coriander.
[And yep, capsicum = pepper!]
09-13-09, 06:34 AM
Oh, and it's up... a pretty good sized lot, Sam!! Three gardens a good 4x8 or so in size, plus potential to dig up the whole back fence (which is on a bank and more like a jungle - no exaggeration, it would be a LOT of work to get rid of vines, huge jungle plants, trees, etc). But it's getting full, hehe, and one is a flower garden because we thought every house should have a flower garden too... sheesh, and we're only in our early 20s, we sound so elderly! ;)
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