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Pest Control & Prevention in the Garden Posted on 15 Oct 07:21 , 0 comments

We asked our customers what issues they face in the garden and the top responses were Weeds and Bugs.  Today we're going to tackle the Bugs & Pests issue.

I need to say this first, bugs are a very important part of the garden.  Don't try to fight ALL of them, learn to work with and around them.  There are good bugs and bad bugs and both will be present in the garden whether you like it or not.  My goal with this article is to help you work WITH nature and not fight nature.
Container gardens are one way to slow down garden pests

Earlier this year I shared an Organic Pest Control series

First I shared Identifying Common Garden Pests

Part 1 Companion Planting

Part 2 DIY Organic Recipes

Part 3 Using Food Grade DE

Then, Identifying Common "Good Bugs" in the Garden


If you have not read these articles, I highly recommend going thru them.  Not because I shared them but because they will answer many of your questions.

Rather than fighting the bugs, let's chat about prevention.

Companion Planting is our first line of defense against bugs such as hornworms and squash bugs.  

Planting LOTS of Borage in the garden with tomatoes, tomatillos and other plants will help deter tomato hornworms.  This is NOT a complete prevention but it's a start.  

Nasturtiums are another great addition to your garden to deter bugs such as squash vine borers.

Marigolds can deter root-damaging Nematodes.

It is a good idea to keep an eye on your plants by checking on them daily of every other day.  If you catch a problem early enough you can say yourself a lot of trouble.  Aphids for example.  If you see a few of them, you can use a DIY organic spray to contain them before it becomes an all out infestation. Please be aware that some sprays, even organic, can still harm beneficial insects.

Do not compost infested or diseased plants.  This is one way to prevent further infestations.

From Rodale,

Attract an airborne defense squad
One of the best ways to short-circuit an onslaught of pests is to attract an airborne cavalry charge of beneficial insects. Many beneficials—including the small wasps that prey on pest caterpillars—will gratefully take advantage of the flat-topped floral landing platforms offered by members of the umbel family, which includes dill, Queen-Anne’s-lace, parsley, and carrots. (You have to allow the parsley and carrot plants to overwinter and grow into their second year to get those umbrella-shaped flowers that beneficials find so attractive.) Other plants beloved by beneficials include sweet alyssum, all kinds of mints, and chamomile.

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Kelp Tea Recipe for your Garden Posted on 22 Jun 13:29 , 2 comments

We've already shared our Alfalfa Meal tea so today we're making KELP tea.  This is especially important if you plan on planting Organic Garlic this year.

  What is KELP and What does Kelp Tea do for plants?

Kelp is derived from sea plants and is sustainable.  Kelp Meal contains only small amount of N, P, and K (highest in Potash) but adds valuable micronutrients.  Kelp Meal also contains vitamins that help increase yields, improve soil structure, reduce plant stress from drought, and increase frost tolerance.

From our website,
Organic Kelp Meal (1-0-2) is dried and ground Rock Weed (Ascophyllum Nodosum), which grows in the cold clean waters along the New England coast, and is known as the best marine plant available for agriculture today

Full of trace Minerals, Carbohydrates and Amino Acids, helping create a strong root systems and makes a very healthy plant

It should be tilled in the soil before planting or can be top dressed, incorporated into potting soils, seed beds and composting material.
Organic kelp meal is ascophyllum nodosum, which is widely recognized as one of the finest marine plants available for agriculture today
It is a natural and cost effective enhancement to any soil fertilization and conditioning program
It is suitable for all crops and applications, and can be mixed with most soil conditioners and fertilizers

BONUS:  Sprinkle a small handful of kelp meal early in the growing season around and on the base of squash plants to help deter squash bugs.  Do this every 10 days where squash bugs are a problem.


RECIPE:
Easy kelp meal tea:  
Add 1/2 cup of kelp meal to 1-gallon water.   Let steep for 1-3 days and agitate daily.

Ways to Use Kelp Tea

-Soak Garlic Cloves in kelp tea for 1 to 2 hours before planting

-Use Kelp Tea as a foliar spray to help protect plants from cold and hot temperatures.

-Soak seeds in Kelp Tea before planting to boost germination

-Apply to soil after transplanting to reduce shock

-Water plant with Kelp Tea once a month.  Stimulates soil microbial activity

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Identifying Common "Good Bugs" in the Garden Posted on 06 Apr 14:05 , 0 comments

In case you missed it, we already posted about Identifying Common Garden Pests.  Now, we need to identify "Good Bugs" or insects in the garden and what they can help.  This isn't a complete list but it's a great place to start.



BEE

Honey bees can often be identified by the balls of yellow pollen they carry on the backs of their legs. Grow flowering plants. Encourage wild honey bees. Because the spread of mites and the increase in pesticide usage has seriously reduced honey bee populations, the wild honey bees that are left are even more important.


BUTTERFLY
 Butterflies are attracted to brightly colored, fragrant flowers and feed on nectar produced by the flowers. As the butterflies travel from one flower to another, they pollinate the plants, resulting in further development of plant species. Numerous plants rely on pollinators, such as butterflies, for reproduction.


DAMSEL BUG

Damsel bugs use thickened front legs to grab their prey, which includes aphids, caterpillars, thrips, leafhoppers, and other soft-bodied insects. Nymphs, too, are predators, and will feast both small insects and their eggs.


DRAGONFLY

There are more than 80 species of dragonflies. They can be identified by their long narrow body, their large compound eyes and the four transparent wings. There is variation in color. Sizes range from one to two inches. The larvae are found in water. They eat mosquitoes, aphids and other pest bugs



EARTHWORM
Earthworms are natural tillers of garden soil.  Earthworms naturally aerate the soil, an important component of any healthy loam. The air that is held by worm tunnels helps breakdown bacteria in the soil.  Earthworm excrement, called “castings,” acts as a soil conditioner, improving the porosity, moisture retention and overall quality of the soil. Castings also help bind important nutrients to plant roots and can deter pests and soil-borne diseases.



GREEN LACEWING

Lacewing feed mainly on flower nectar. Lacewing larvae, however, are voracious predators that feed on aphids, thrips, scales, moth eggs, small caterpillars and mites.


LADYBUGS (actually a beetle)

 Most ladybug adults and larvae feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects. Adults are attracted to flower nectar and pollen, which they must eat before they can reproduce.


NEMATODE 
(yes, there are "good" and "bad" nematodes) 
(too small to see with the naked eye)

Beneficial Nematodes can be used anywhere developing pests exist including backyards, flower and vegetable gardens, lawns, fruit and nut trees, vines, greenhouses, row crops, pastures and more


SPIDERS

All spiders feed on insects and are very important in preventing pest outbreaks. The spiders normally found in gardens do not move indoors, nor are they poisonous. Permanent perennial plantings and straw mulches will provide shelter and dramatically increase spider populations in vegetable gardens. 

Helpful links




Stay tuned for more info during our 2016 Organic Pest Control series!



We hope you have enjoyed yet another informative growing article here at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  If you have additional questions please ask!

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2016 ORGANIC PEST CONTROL part 3 Posted on 05 Apr 06:04 , 0 comments




Mary's Heirloom Seeds

Do you have pesky bugs in the garden that eat your veggies and plants before you get to enjoy them? 
How about bugs in the house? 
We have SEVERAL Safe and Non-Toxic Solutions!

Part 1 we talked about Companion Planting

Part 2 we shared DIY recipes and Organic NEEM Oil


As with any form of organic growing, not every method works for everyone.  THIS is why we offer a multi-part series for organic pest control.
Today we're talking about Diatomaceous Earth 

Using Diatomaceous Earth for Non-Toxic, Natural Pest Control


When we had a booth at the local farmer's market, I offered a workshop for 10 Ways to Avoid Chemicals in Your Garden.  One option for non-toxic pest control is  Diatomaceous Earth (DE)


*VERY IMPORTANT*  We ONLY recommend using *FOOD GRADE DE* 
There is a huge difference between food grade DE and the stuff used for pools.  Any form of DE that list "other" as an ingredient is suspect. 
Diatomaceous Earth is a natural, organic garden pest control and household insect killer. Diatomaceous Earth kills by physical action, not chemical. If used properly, It is safe for pets and people. The tiny diatoms scratch off the insect's waxy coating, and dehydrate it. DE kills spiders, roaches, silverfish, ants, fire ants, carpenter ants, bedbugs, lice, mites, earwigs, flies, fleas, box elder bugs, pubic and hair lice, scorpions, crickets and harmful insects. Diatomaceous Earth is used in the home, yard, animal housing, etc. Sprinkle a 2 inch wide border around the foundation of your house to stop insects from entering. 
Diatomaceous Earth
kills aphids, white flies, beetles, loopers, mites, snails, slugs, leaf hoppers, and harmful pests. Use Diatomaceous Earth inside your home, greenhouse or outdoors on fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains and grass. Apply Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth up to and including day of harvest.

BEFORE you decide to use ANY form of pest control, it is important to read all of the information provided.  We went one step further and created a video

 

Tell those garden pests to EAT DIRT!
What is Diatomaceous Earth (DE)?  Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. 

How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth to your Veggie Garden:

-Fill a container (or applicator bottle) with diatomaceous earth. Avoid creating dust by using a spoon to transfer the powder to the container. Although diatomaceous earth is non-toxic, you should not breathe the fine dust. Consider wearing a disposable face mask if you will be working with large quantities of the powder or if you have respiratory issues.

-Sprinkle the powder onto the vegetable plants using a spoon OR use an applicator bottle to reduce dust. The best time to do this is in early morning or late evening, when the plants are wet with dew. The moisture helps the dust to adhere to the plant. Diatomaceous earth won't harm insects when it is wet, but it will be effective once it dries. Shake the powder on the vegetables as well as the leaves; the powder can be easily washed off the vegetables prior to consumption. 

-Apply the powder to the garden bed and to the area surrounding the garden. This will keep many crawling insects from even reaching the vegetable plants.

-Pour a thick ring of diatomaceous earth around the base of plants to deter snails, slugs and squash bugs.

**It is not recommended to use on flowers or flowering plants.  Example, Once your tomato plants begin to flower, use only on the stem and soil surrounding the plant. Never use DE on Milkweed or flower gardens. 


And there you have it! Non-Toxic and Natural Pest Control with  
Diatomaceous Earth from   Mary's Heirloom Seeds 
***Now Available with Applicator Bottle***

"The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. "
Mary's Heirloom Seeds

Helpful Links:
Using Organic Neem Oil in the Garden

Region-Specific, Month-to-Month Planting Guide

Identify Common Garden Pests

Using Azomite for Healthy Plants


NEW SEEDS! 
Christmas Lima Bean

This heirloom lima bean was first cultivated in the United States around the year 1840 and is also known as "Large Speckled Calico" lima.
  
Red-Stipped Greasy Pole Bean


Appalachian heirloom. Also known as Striped Greasy Cut Short, although the seed is not squared off like a true cut short bean 
   
Dakota Black Popcorn
  

Beautiful 4½ in. ears, great flavor. 15 rows per ear. 6 ft. stalks, 1 ear per stalk, above-average pest resistance.


White Soul Wild Strawberry
If you want a vigorous perennial ground cover plant, grow Strawberry seeds!
These hardy perennials provide fresh strawberries in small spaces.
Mary's Heirloom Seeds, P. O. Box 3763, Ramona, CA 92065
We hope you have enjoyed yet another informative growing article here at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  If you have additional questions please ask!

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2016 Organic Pest Control part 2 Posted on 31 Mar 06:24 , 1 comment

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Before we get started with Part 2....

 Organic Pest Control Part 1 was about using Companion Planting as a natural, organic and sustainable way to deter pests from your garden

As with any form of organic growing, not every method works for everyone.  THIS is why we offer a multi-part series for organic pest control.

If you have additional questions, we are happy to help!
Organic Pest Control
Part 2   

WHY GO ORGANIC?
In 2007 it was estimated that there are over 3 billion pounds of poisons and insecticides manufactured in the United State each year
for home and garden use.

**We are still searching for current statistics.  The EPA does not always release these in a timely manner.***
Pesticide use in agriculture is down slightly, from 948 million pounds in 2000 to 877 million pounds in 2007. But that's only about 1% per year, and still close to a billion pounds of toxic chemicals intentionally introduced into the environment and our food supply each year.
These are a major threat to groundwater in every state and the problem keeps growing! It's also a major health concern.
More than 3.4 million people suffer from medically related side effects from the use of pesticides. Some of the immediate side effects include dizziness, nausea, headaches, low energy and loss of memory. Tests and research have proven that many forms of cancer are caused by 65% of all the pesticides.  
The herbicide glyphosate has more than doubled in use, from 85-90 million pounds in 2001 to 180-185 million pounds in 2007. According to a report from the Organic Center, this increase is likely a reflection of the rising popularity of Monsanto's RoundUp Ready genetically modified crops. (Glyphosate is the active ingredient of RoundUp.)
Today we have a few
DIY Recipes for Organic Pest Control

**Please remember that some (not all) organic sprays can harm beneficial insects. Just be cautious**
Organic Insecticidal Soap Spray
Option 1:
Add 1 tablespoon organic liquid castile soap
*I prefer Dr. Bronner's* to a spray bottle.  Fill with water and use on your garden every other day or as needed on "bad bugs"
Option 2:
Chop, grind, or liquefy one garlic bulb and one small onion.  
Add 1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper and mix with 1 quart of water.  
Steep 1 hour, strain through cheesecloth, then add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap (I use Organic Dr. Bronner's) to the strained liquid; mix well.  
Spray your plants thoroughly, including leaf undersides.  
Store the mixture for up to 1 week in a labeled, covered container in the refrigerator.  
As we have said in previous articles:
Be careful of where and how you use these recipes.  Even organic pest control options can work on "good bugs" as well as "bad bugs."
  
Spray to Control Nematodes
 
Nematodes are tiny parasitic worms that live in your soil. If you've ever grown tomatoes and found that the leaves were beginning to yellow and fall off the plant, then you have a nematode problem. While some nematodes are actually good for your garden, most are not. This mixture can also be used to spray on your plants to control grasshoppers and caterpillars.
Ingredients
3 tablespoons of organic molasses
4 cups of water
Instructions
Mix the molasses and water in a spray bottle and shake vigorously. Use warm water to help the molasses dissolve better.
Spray the "Molasses Tea" on your soil around your plants every couple of days to keep the nematodes away.  
  
  
NEEM Oil Spray
This recipe is for edible vegetables and fruit, but be sure to wash all produce before cooking/eating (you can also use this on non-edibles too).
1/2 an ounce of organic neem oil  
1 teaspoon of natural liquid soap (preferably organic like Dr. Bronners etc).
2 quarts of warm water
Spray bottle
Mix all ingredients in a jug, then transfer to the spray bottle. This homemade pesticide works best when used fresh, so use within 24 hour of mixing it up.
  
**Works on MITES, Aphids, Mealybugs, Scales, Whitefly and more*** 

We've added Organic Neem Oil
at Mary's Heirloom Seeds to help you grow a healthy, organic garden!
About Neem Oil
A magnificent oil with numerous benefits for both therapeutic and medicinal use. Among other properties, this oil is anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. Used widely in creams, dental products, hair care products, and in gardens for natural pest control. Can be applied directly to the skin or included within skin care preparations that are designed specifically to treat problematic skin conditions. Our Neem oil is cold pressed from whole Neem tree nuts.
The oil has a half life of three to 22 days in soil but only 45 minutes to four days in water. It is nearly non-toxic to birds, fish, bees and wildlife, and studies have shown no cancer or other disease causing results from its use. This makes neem oil very safe to use if applied properly.

Neem oil fungicide is useful against fungi, mildews and rusts when applied in a 1 percent solution.
Apply neem oil only in indirect light or in the evening to avoid the product burning foliage and allow the preparation to seep into the plant. Also, do not use neem oil in extreme temperatures, either too hot or too cold. Avoid application to plants that are stressed due to drought or over watering.
There has been concern about the use of neem oil and bees. Most studies specify that if neem oil is used inappropriately, and in massive quantities, it can cause harm to small hives, but has no effect on medium to large hives. Additionally, since neem oil insecticide does not target bugs that do not chew on leaves, most beneficial insects, like butterflies and ladybugs, are considered safe.
Read More:

Recent Articles:

Region-Specific, Month-to-Month Planting Guide

Identify Common Garden Pests

If you have additional questions please feel free to ask. 
Happy Planting,
We hope you have enjoyed yet another informative growing article here at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  If you have additional questions please ask!

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2016 Organic Pest Control Part 1 Posted on 29 Mar 21:17 , 3 comments


sunflower-2.jpg
ORGANIC PEST CONTROL Part 1
We asked our customers and friends what questions or issues they have in the garden.  The overwhelming response was PEST Control.  So of course we're sending our our 4 part (maybe 5 part) series about Organic Pest Control methods.  But first, we must identify these pests!

Below are just a few images of common pests found in veggie gardens across the country.  There are too many to name in a single email!  Then we move on to COMPANION PLANTING!  We use Companion Planting as our FIRST line of defense against pests.  It is easier to DETER these bugs then to fight them off once you have an infestation.

APHIDS

CUTWORMS

Tomato Hornworm

Read our full article IDENTIFY COMMON GARDEN PESTS
Companion planting is based around the idea that certain plants can benefit others when planted next to, or close to one another.  Companion planting exists to benefit certain plants by giving them pest control, naturally without the need to use chemicals, and in some cases they can give a higher crop yield
Generally, companion planting is thought of as a small-scale gardening practice, but it can be applied on larger-scale operations. It has been proven that by having a beneficial crop in a nearby field that attracts certain insects away from a neighboring field that has the main crop can prove very beneficial. This action is called trap cropping.

COMPANION PLANTING

Beans:
All beans enrich the soil with nitrogen fixed form the air, improving the conditions for whatever crop you plant after the beans are finished. In general they are good company for carrots, celery, chards, corn, eggplant, peas, potatoes, brassicas, beets, radish, strawberry and cucumbers. Beans are great for heavy nitrogen users like corn and grain plants because the nitrogren used up by the corn and grains are replaced at the end of the season when the bean plants die back. Summer savory deters bean beetles and improves growth and flavor. Keep beans away from the alliums (onions).

What is a Brassica?

Members of brassica commonly used for food include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and Turnips 

Beets: Good for adding minerals to the soil. The leaves are composed of 25% magnesium making them a valuable addition to the compost pile if you don't care to eat them. Beets are also beneficial to beans with the exception of runner beans. Runner or pole beans and beets stunt each other's growth. Companions for beets are lettuce, onions and brassicas. Beets and kohlrabi grow perfectly together. Beets are helped by garlic and mints. Garlic improves growth and flavor. Rather than planting invasive mints around beets use your mint clippings as a mulch. 

Broccoli:  Companions for broccoli are: Basil, Bush Beans, Cucumber, Dill, Garlic, Hyssop, Lettuce, Marigold, Mint, Nasturtium, Onion, Potato, Radish, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Tomato. Celery, onions and potatoes improve broccolis' flavor when planted near it. Broccoli loves plenty of calcium. Pairing it with plants that need little calcium is a good combination such as nasturtiums and beets. Put the nasturtiums right under the broccoli plants. Herbs such as rosemary, dill and sage help repel pests with their distinct aromas. Foes: Grapes, strawberries, mustards and rue.

Cabbage: Celery, dill, onions and potatoes are good companion plants. Celery improves growth and health. Clover interplanted with cabbage has been shown to reduce the native cabbage aphid and cabbageworm populations by interfering with the colonization of the pests and increasing the number of predatory ground beetles. Plant Chamomile with cabbage as it Improves growth and flavor. Cabbage does not get along with strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, rue, grapes, lettuce and pole beans.

Carrots:
Their pals are leaf lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Plant dill and parsnips away from carrots. Flax produces an oil that may protect root vegetables like carrots from some pests. One drawback with tomatoes and carrots: tomato plants can stunt the growth of your carrots but the carrots will still be of good flavor. 

Cauliflower:  Plant with Peas, beans, celery and oregano  (Peas and beans help fix nitrogen to supply to cauliflowers)
Avoid planting Cauliflower with Nasturtium, potato, strawberry and tomato. 

Chards: Companions include Bean, cabbage family, tomato, onion and roses. Don't overlook chard's value as an ornamental plant in flower beds or wherever you have room for it. Don't grow chard near cucurbits, melons, corn or herbs.

CHIVES: 
Adding chive to your garden where you grow parsley, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi, mustard, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, roses, squash, strawberries or tomatoes will help those plants. Companion planting chive with carrots will improve both the growth and flavor of your carrots. Grapes benefit from chive's ability to repel aphids.
Beets and carrots are good companion plants for chives. When chives are planted near carrots that have been allowed to bloom, it confuses both onion and carrot flies. Wild carrot or Queen Anne's Lace will provide a lovely addition to your garden and provide the same benefits.

Corn: Amaranth, beans, cucumber, white geranium, lamb's quarters, melons, morning glory, parsley, peanuts, peas, potato, pumpkin, soybeans, squash and sunflower. A classic example is to grow climbing beans up corn while inter-planting pumpkins. The corn provides a natural trellis for the beans, pumpkins smother the weeds and helps corn roots retain moisture. Corn is a heavy feeder and the beans fix nitrogen from air into the soil however the beans do not feed the corn while it is growing. When the bean plants die back they return nitrogen to the soil that was used up by the corn. A win-win situation. Another interesting helper for corn is the weed Pig's Thistle which raises nutrients from the subsoil to where the corn can reach them. Keep corn away from celery and tomato plants by at least 20 feet.

 Cucumber: Cucumbers are great to plant with corn and beans. The three plants like the same conditions: warmth, rich soil and plenty of moisture. Let the cucumbers grow up and over your corn plants. Cukes also do well with peas, beets, radishes and carrots. Radishes are a good deterrent against cucumber beetles. Dill planted with cucumbers helps by attracting beneficial predators. Nasturtium improves growth and flavor. Keep sage, potatoes and rue away from cucumbers.

Eggplant: Plant with amaranth, beans, peas, spinach, tarragon, thyme and marigold. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and does well with peppers as they like the same growing conditions.

 Leeks: Use leeks near apple trees, carrots, celery and onions which will improve their growth. Leeks also repel carrot flies. Avoid planting near legumes.

 Lettuce: Does well with beets, broccoli, bush beans, pole beans, carrots, cucumbers, onion, radish and strawberries. It grows happily in the shade under young sunflowers. Dill and lettuce are a perfect pair. Keep lettuce away from cabbage. Cabbage is a deterrent to the growth and flavor of lettuce.

 Melon: Companions are Corn, pumpkin, radish and squash. Other suggested helpers for melons are as follows: Marigold deters beetles, nasturtium
deters bugs and beetles. Oregano provides general pest protection. 

Onion:
Planting chamomile and summer savory with onions improves their flavor. Other companions are  carrot, leek, beets, kohlrabi, strawberries, brassicas, dill, lettuce and tomatoes. Intercropping onions and leeks with your carrots confuses the carrot and onion flies! Onions planted with strawberries help the berries fight disease. Keep onions away from peas and asparagus.

Peas:  Plant with Beans, carrot, corn, cucumber, radish, turnips, spinach, mint and potatoes.  Avoid planting with Onions. 

Peppers, Bell (Sweet Peppers): Plant peppers near tomatoes, parsley,  basil, geraniums, marjoram, lovage, petunia and carrots. Onions make an excellent companion plant for peppers. They do quite well with okra as it shelters them and protects the brittle stems from wind. Don't plant them near fennel or kohlrabi. They should also not be grown near apricot trees because a fungus that the pepper is prone to can cause a lot of harm to the apricot tree. Peppers can double as ornamentals, so tuck some into flowerbeds and borders. Peppers can be harvested at any stage of growth, but their flavor doesn't fully develop until maturity.

 Peppers, Hot: Chili peppers have root exudates that prevent root rot and other Fusarium diseases. Plant anywhere you have these problems. While you should always plant chili peppers close together, providing shelter from the sun with other plants will help keep them from drying out and provide more humidity. Tomato plants, green peppers, and okra are good protection for them. Teas made from hot peppers can be useful as insect sprays. Hot peppers like to be grouped with cucumbers, eggplant, escarole, tomato, okra, Swiss chard and squash. Herbs to plant near them include: basils, oregano, parsley and rosemary. Never put them next to any beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or fennel.

Pumpkin: Friends of pumpkin include corn, melon and squash. Marigold deters beetles. Nasturtium deters bugs, beetles . Oregano provides general pest protection. Again dill may help repel those frustrating squash bugs. See squash entry for more tips.

Radish: Companions for radishes are beet, bush beans, pole beans, carrots, chervil, cucumber, lettuce, melons, nasturtium, parsnip, peas, spinach and members of the squash family. Radishes may protect squash from squash borers. Anything that will help keep them away is worth a try. Radishes are a deterrent against cucumber beetles and rust flies. Chervil and nasturtium improve radish growth and flavor. Planting them around corn and letting them go to seed will also help fight corn borers. Chinese Daikon and Snow Belle radishes are favorites of flea beetles. Plant these at 6 to 12 inch intervals amongst broccoli. In one trial, this measurably reduced damage to broccoli. Radishes will lure leafminers away from spinach. The damage the leafminers do to radish leaves does not stop the radish roots from growing, a win-win situation. Keep radishes away from hyssop plants, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and turnips. Radishes are a good indicator of calcium levels in the soil. If your radish grows and only produces a stringy root you need calcium.

Spinach: Plant with peas and beans as they provide natural shade for the spinach. Gets along with cabbage, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, onion, peas, strawberries and fava bean. Plant spinach with squash. It's a good use of space because by the time squash plants start to get big the spinach is ready to bolt. 

 Squash: Companions: Beans, corn, cucumbers, icicle radishes, melon, mint, onions and pumpkin. Helpers: Borage deters worms, improves growth and flavor. Marigolds deters beetle. Nasturtium deters squash bugs and beetles.
Oregano provides general pest protection. Dill may repel the squash bug that will kill your squash vines. Generously scatter the dill leaves on your squash plants. Keep squash away from potatoes.

STRAWBERRIES: If there is a magic bullet of companion planting, it is likely the herb borage.  Borage helps a vast number of other plants.   Aside from borage, however, there are several other plants beneficial to strawberry plants.  They are: Bush Beans, Caraway and Lupine. Do not plant near cabbage.

Tomatoes: Friends of tomatoes are many and include: asparagus, basil, bean, carrots, celery, chive, cucumber, garlic, head lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, parsley, pea, pepper, marigold, pot marigold and sow thistle. One drawback with tomatoes and carrots: tomato plants can stunt the growth of your carrots but the carrots will still be of good flavor. Basil repels flies and mosquitoes, improves growth and flavor. Bee balm, chives and mint improve health and flavor. Borage deters tomato worm, improves growth and flavor.
Plant near: most garden crops
Keep away from: rue
Comments: improves the flavor and growth of garden crops, especially tomatoes and lettuce. Repels mosquitoes
Borage
Plant near:  squash, strawberries, tomatoes
Keep away from:
Comments: repels tomato worms. Improves flavor and growth of companions.


 Dill, until mature, improves growth and health, mature dill retards tomato growth. Enemies: corn and tomato are attacked by the same worm. Kohlrabi stunts tomato growth. Keep potatoes and tomatoes apart as they both can get early and late blight contaminating each other. Keep apricot, dill, fennel, cabbage and cauliflower away from them. Don't plant them under walnut trees as they will get walnut wilt: a disease that attacks tomatoes growing underneath these trees.
 Marigolds
Plant near: all garden crops
Keep away from:
Comments: stimulates vegetable growth and deters bean beetles, aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, nematodes, and maggots.

Nasturtiums
Plant near: apples, beans, cabbage family, greenhouse crops, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, squash
Keep away from:
Comments: repels aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, striped pumpkin beetles, and Mexican bean beetles and destroys white flies in greenhouses.

Sage
Plant near: cabbage family, carrots, tomatoes
Keep away from: cucumbers
Comments: deters cabbage moths and carrot flies. Invigorates tomato plants.

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Identify Common Garden Pests Posted on 27 Mar 11:11 , 2 comments

It's that time of year again.  It's SPRING and we're working in the garden.  We've had quite a few requests for organic pest control methods so we're about to share our Organic Pest Control series once again.  First, let's identify common garden pests

APHIDS
From Garden.org
Aphids are found throughout the United States. These small, soft-bodied insects may be pale green, pink, black, or yellow, depending on the species. Some stages of the life cycle are winged, others wingless. Aphids feed on a wide variety of plants, including most edible and ornamental plants. Clustering on tips of new growth and leaf undersides, they suck plant juices causing leaves to become distorted and yellow.
Aphids secrete a sugary fluid called honeydew that attracts ants and may cause the growth of a sooty black fungus on leaves. In small numbers aphids do little damage, but they reproduce rapidly. They can also spread diseases among plants.
COMPANION PLANTS to deter APHIDS:
Garlic, onions, Mint, coriander, dill, oregano, Rue, Sunflowers and nasturtiums

CABBAGE WORM
From Garden.org
Found throughout the U.S., the cabbageworm is the larva of a common white butterfly with three to four black spots on its wings. The damage done by these caterpillars is similar to that of the cabbage looper -- the pests chew large, ragged holes in the leaves of cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, and may bore into the heads, leaving trails of dark green frass (droppings). There are several generations per year.
COMPANION PLANTS to deter CABBAGE WORMS:
Plant tomatoes, onions, garlic, and sage around cabbage to deter the worm

CORN EARWORM
 
From Garden.org
This pest is common throughout North America. The adult is an inch-long tan moth that lays yellow eggs on leaf undersides in the spring. The caterpillar larva has alternating light and dark stripes that may be green, pink, or brown. This first generation of caterpillars feeds on the leaves. Eggs of later generations are laid on corn silk; the emerging caterpillars feed on the silk and the kernels at the tip of the ear just inside the husk. In some cases this same caterpillar feeds on a variety of plants and hence has many common names: tomato fruitworm, cotton bollworm, geranium budworm. It also is know to feed on beans, peas, peppers, potatoes, and squash.

CUCUMBER BEETLE
There are two forms of cucumber beetle -- one striped and the other sporting a dozen black spots. 
 
Cucumber beetles are pests of far more plants than their name indicates. In addition to cucumbers and their relatives (squashes, gourds, and melons), these beetles are known to feed on beans, peas, corn and blossoms of several wild and cultivated plants. The spotted cucumber beetle feeds on an even wider array of cultivated plants, adding potatoes, beets, tomatoes, eggplants, and cabbage to its menu. The larva of the spotted cucumber beetle is also known as the southern corn rootworm. In addition to corn roots, it infests peanuts, small grains and many wild grasses. You may find them feasting on your roses and dahlias, as well.
Cucumber beetles are more dangerous to their cucumber-family hosts than many pests, because they transmit deadly diseases -- mosaic and bacterial wilts.
The adults overwinter in weeds and plant debris. They emerge in spring after the last frost and enter gardens once the growing season is underway. You may first notice them inside squash flowers. They lay orange eggs at the base of host plants; white larva with legs and brown heads emerge to chew on roots. Short northern seasons allow just one generation a year, but in the South and milder parts of the West, two or more generations are typical.
COMPANION PLANTS to deter CUCUMBER BEETLE:
Sow two or three radish seeds in cucumber or squash hills to repel cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Nasturtiums are edible annual flowers that are easy to grow and make good companions for cucumber and squash

CUTWORMS
Several kinds of surface-feeding caterpillars are known as cutworms. Their name reflects their feeding habit, which is to chew plant stalks until they are cut through. They feed on many garden plants, and are especially fond of seedlings. Cutworms emerge at night, curling themselves around plant stalks to feed. Cutworms hide during the day, usually an inch or so below ground and near the scene of the crime.
There are three types of cutworms, each characterized the site of feeding: on plant roots; on seedlings at ground level; on buds above ground level. Adult cutworms are dark-colored, night-flying moths.

LEAFMINER
Though many different insects are known as leafminers the most common are the larvae of tiny black flies. They tunnel between the upper and lower layers of leaf tissue creating visible random trails, or mines, in the process.
Adult flies lay eggs on the undersides of leaves. After hatching, larvae tunnel into leaves to feed, gaining some protection from predators there. They are pests to beets, chard, lettuce, peppers, potatoes, and spinach.

NEMATODES
 (too small to show a picture)
Below is the damage done by nematodes
Various species of these microscopic worms are found all over North America, but they are a more severe problem in the South. They feed on the roots of a wide variety of plants, including tomatoes, celery, beans, and spinach. Infected plants are stunted and yellow, may wilt in hot, dry weather, and can die if badly infested. Other symptoms include roots with many small, round nodules on them, and taproots that develop many small side roots such as in the image at left. Nematodes are spread via infected soil, water, tools, and plants. Damage is similar to that caused by other stresses that injure roots; have your soil tested for nematodes to verify that they are the culprit.

PICKLE WORM
 
From Garden.org
This caterpillar is mainly a problem in the southeastern United States. It feeds on the blossoms, stems, and developing fruits of summer squash, and occasionally cucumbers and muskmelons. The adult moths emerge in spring after overwintering as pupae in semitropical areas such as southern Florida. They migrate northward to lay eggs on leaves, buds, stems, and fruits of susceptible plants. There may be four or more generations per year depending on the climate.

SQUASH VINE BORERS
From Garden.org
Squash vine borers are pests of crops east of the Rockies. The adult is a moth that lays its eggs on the stems near the base of the plant in late spring to early summer. Fat, white caterpillars with brown heads hatch out and tunnel into the stems to feed, causing sudden wilting of all or part of a squash vine. If you cut open the stem of the wilted vine lengthwise, you'll find it filled with sawdustlike frass (droppings) and one or more caterpillars. The borer prefers squashes but will occasionally infest cucumbers and melons as well. In the Deep South there can be two generations per year; in the North, only one.
COMPANION PLANTS to deter SQUASH BORER:
 Sow two or three radish seeds in cucumber or squash hills to repel cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Nasturtiums are edible annual flowers that are easy to grow and make good companions for cucumber and squash

THRIPS
(too small to see)
Below is damage done by Thrips
 
Unless you have a magnifying glass, you probably won't see these tiny pests on your plants, but you may notice signs of their presence, including black, shiny speckles (droppings), silvery stippling (masses of tiny discolored scars on plant parts), or, in severe cases, deformed growth.
Magnification shows thrips to be shiny, elongated blackish or yellowish insects. Adults have feathery, fringed wings, and nymphs lack wings. There are many generations per year. Thrips prefer to feed on new, rapidly growing plant tissue where it is easy to hide. Most feeding by thrips causes only slight damage, but high populations can be quite destructive. Feeding thrips can prevent rose buds from opening, and results in deformed petals. Certain species spread viruses to tomatoes and impatiens. Thrips also attack asparagus, cabbage, lettuce, onions, peas, flowers, and fruit and shade trees.

TOMATO HORNWORM
(My arch nemesis before I learned about planting BORAGE)
From Garden.org
Tomato hornworms can grow as large as 5 inches long.
Found throughout the United States, these large, fat caterpillars feed voraciously on the leaves and fruits of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. Adults are rather spectacular sphinx moths: grayish-brown with orange spots on the body and a 4- to 5-inch wing span. After overwintering in the soil in 2-inch brown spindle-shaped pupal cases, moths emerge in late spring to early summer to lay greenish-yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves. Caterpillars feed for about a month, then enter the soil to pupate. There is one generation per year in the North; two or more in the South.

WHITEFLY
From Garden.org
This pest is found throughout the United States. The tiny insects feed in large numbers by sucking plant juices from the leaves and stems of many plants, including tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, flowers, trees, and shrubs.
Whiteflies secrete a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew that may cause the growth of a sooty black fungus on leaves. Eggs laid on leaf undersides hatch into tiny larvae that look like flat, oval, semitransparent scales. The larvae reach adulthood within a about a month of hatching.
Quick COMPANION PLANT list:

Basil

Plant near: most garden crops
Keep away from: rue
Comments: improves the flavor and growth of garden crops, especially tomatoes and lettuce. Repels mosquitoes

Borage

Plant near:  squash, strawberries, tomatoes
Keep away from:
Comments: repels tomato worms. Improves flavor and growth of companions.

Marigolds

Plant near: all garden crops
Keep away from:
Comments: stimulates vegetable growth and deters bean beetles, aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, nematodes, and maggots.

Nasturtiums

Plant near: apples, beans, cabbage family, greenhouse crops, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, squash
Keep away from:
Comments: repels aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, striped pumpkin beetles, and Mexican bean beetles and destroys white flies in greenhouses.

Radishes

Plant near: chervil, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, peas, nasturtiums, root crops
Keep away from: hyssop
Comments: radishes deter cucumber beetles. Chervil makes radishes hot. Lettuce helps make radishes tender. Nasturtiums improve radishes' flavor.

Sage

Plant near: cabbage family, carrots, tomatoes
Keep away from: cucumbers
Comments: deters cabbage moths and carrot flies. Invigorates tomato plants.
 See our detailed Companion Planting list


We hope you have enjoyed yet another informative growing article here at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  If you have additional questions please ask!

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Check Out What's New this Summer! Posted on 08 Jul 11:40 , 0 comments

We've added so many AMAZING things at Mary's Heirloom Seeds this Summer!
SPECKLED LETTUCE
NEW this Summer!
We've announced our winner for the Heirloom Seeds Giveaway.  Even if you didn't win, you can still get FREE Seeds!  Details HERE
ORGANIC NEEM OIL
FIREWEED
PLANT MARKERS
LAVENDER - SPANISH EYE
ST. JOHN'S WORT
DE with APPLICATOR BOTTLE

ARUGULA "ROQUETTE"


LONG ISLAND CHEESE PUMPKIN

ORGANIC ALFALFA "TEA" BAGS - 3
More ORGANIC PLANT FOOD OPTIONS
 
We've added a bunch of NEW seed varieties this year.  Over 50!
If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!
You can email us directly to mary@marysheirloomseeds.com

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We currently offer over 230 varieties of open-pollinated, non-gmo & non-hybrid, non-patented,  untreated, organic, heirloom garden seeds.  
Mary has signed the Safe Seed pledge.  

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Organic Pest Control Part 4 - Final Posted on 20 Jun 07:23 , 0 comments

Welcome to the final installment of our Organic Pest Control series at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  We hope you have picked up a few new tips and tricks for your organic garden.  If you have additional questions, please ask.  Email us at mary@marysheirloomseeds.com

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June 19, 2015

As we said in Part 3,  "As with any form of organic growing, not every method works for everyone.  THIS is why we offer a multi-part series for organic pest control."

Here's a link to Our Videos for more info. 
If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask.
Organic Pest Control
Part 4   

In Part 1, we share about using Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth in the Garden.  We've used DE for years with success.


In Part 2, we shared detailed info about Companion Planting to reduce harmful pests in the garden and help boost crop yields with interplanting. We love Companion Planting!


Part 3 included Organic Pest Control Recipes that you can make yourself.  We also announce a product, Organic Neem Oil.  We also use Organic Neem Oil in our own garden.
About Neem Oil
The oil has a half life of three to 22 days in soil but only 45 minutes to four days in water. It is nearly non-toxic to birds, fish, bees and wildlife, and studies have shown no cancer or other disease causing results from its use. This makes neem oil very safe to use if applied properly.
Neem oil fungicide is useful against fungi, mildews and rusts when applied in a 1 percent solution.
Apply neem oil only in indirect light or in the evening to avoid the product burning foliage and allow the preparation to seep into the plant. Also, do not use neem oil in extreme temperatures, either too hot or too cold. Avoid application to plants that are stressed due to drought or over watering.


We have a few more tips for  
Organic Pest Control!
Floating Row Covers 
This translucent, white, porous polyester fabric acts as an insect barrier, while letting in up to 80 percent of the available light.You could keep the crop covered for its entire life span, although this isn't a good option for crops that require insect pollination.
Insecticidal soap contains unsaturated long-chain fatty acids (derived from animal fats) that dissolve the cuticle (skin) of insects. Insecticidal soaps are easy to make at home and can be made from completely organic ingredients.
To be effective, the insecticidal soap must come in contact with the insects while it's still liquid-it has no effect after it dries on the plants. Spray only on pests and try to avoid hitting beneficial insects with the spray.   
From Mother Earth News,
Slugs took top honors as the most bothersome pest in home gardens, with 55 percent of respondents saying the slimy critters give them trouble year after year. Handpicking was highly rated as a control measure (87 percent success rate), followed by iron phosphate baits (86 percent) and diatomaceous earth (84 percent). Opinion was divided on eggshell barriers (crushed eggshells sprinkled around plants), with a 33 percent failure rate among gardeners who had tried that slug control method. An easy home remedy that received widespread support was beer traps (80 percent success rate).
Squash bugs had sabotaged summer and winter squash for 51 percent of respondents, and even ducks couldn't solve a serious squash bug problem. Most gardeners reported using handpicking as their primary defense, along with cleaning up infested plants at season's end to interrupt the squash bug life cycle. The value of companion planting for squash bug management was a point of disagreement for respondents, with 21 percent saying it's the best control method and 34 percent saying it doesn't help. Of the gardeners who had tried it, 79 percent said spraying neem on egg clusters and juvenile squash bugs is helpful. About 74 percent of row cover users found them useful in managing squash bugs.
Gardeners named zinnias and borage as good companion plants for reducing hornworm problems.
Prevention in Key 
The easiest way to prevent insect damage in your garden is to discourage them from coming in the first place.  
A healthy garden is the best defense.
Pull out any weak plants. They may already be infected. If not, they will attract predators. Pull the plant and dispose of it away from the garden area.
Build healthy, organic soil. Natural composting methods, mulching and top-dressing your soil with compost or organic fertilizer is the best way to develop strong, vigorous plants.
Interplant and rotate crops. Insect pests are often plant specific. When plantings are mixed, pests are less likely to spread throughout a crop. Rotating crops each year is a common method to avoid re-infestation of pests which have over-wintered in the bed.

Disinfect.  If you've been working with infested plants, clean your tools before moving on to other garden areas. This will reduce the speed of invading insects.

Recent Articles:

Using Organic Neem Oil in the Garden

JUNE Seed Planting Guide for the US by Region


Mung Bean Sprout Tutorial

Benefits of Cayenne with Tincture Recipe
If you have additional questions please feel free to ask. 
Happy Planting,




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Using Organic Neem Oil in the Garden Posted on 18 Jun 07:45 , 2 comments

A magnificent oil with numerous benefits for both therapeutic and medicinal use. Among other properties, this oil is anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. Used widely in creams, dental products, hair care products, and in gardens for natural pest control. Can be applied directly to the skin or included within skin care preparations that are designed specifically to treat problematic skin conditions. Our Organic Neem oil is cold pressed from whole Neem tree nuts.



The oil has a half life of three to 22 days in soil but only 45 minutes to four days in water. It is nearly non-toxic to birds, fish, bees and wildlife, and studies have shown no cancer or other disease causing results from its use. This makes neem oil very safe to use if applied properly.

Neem oil fungicide is useful against fungi, mildews and rusts when applied in a 1 percent solution.

Apply neem oil only in indirect light or in the evening to avoid the product burning foliage and allow the preparation to seep into the plant. Also, do not use neem oil in extreme temperatures, either too hot or too cold. Avoid application to plants that are stressed due to drought or over watering.

There has been concern about the use of neem oil and bees. Most studies specify that if neem oil is used inappropriately, and in massive quantities, it can cause harm to small hives, but has no effect on medium to large hives. Additionally, since neem oil insecticide does not target bugs that do not chew on leaves, most beneficial insects, like butterflies and ladybugs, are considered safe.
Organic Neem Oil is now available at Mary's Heirloom Seeds
2 ounces and 4 ounce options of Organic Neem Oil includes Amber bottle and detailed instructions
NEEM Oil Spray
from Mary's Heirloom Seeds 
This recipe is for edible vegetables and fruit, but be sure to wash all produce before cooking/eating (you can also use this on non-edibles too).

1/2 an ounce of organic neem oil  

1 teaspoon of natural liquid soap (preferably organic like Dr. Bronners etc).

2 quarts of warm water

Spray bottle

Mix all ingredients in a jug, then transfer to the spray bottle. This homemade pesticide works best when used fresh, so use within 24 hour of mixing it up.

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