Although square foot gardening reduces 99% of weeding, it doesn’t control all those pesky pests and diseases. While I am personally not averse to occasional use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, I always try an organic method first.
In his book, Mel talks about the necessity of using multiple kinds of compost or better yet, making your own! If you spend the money on good compost, you reduce the need to add extra fertilizer at all. By mixing and matching different compost you create a nutrient rich environment for your plants. Since you add compost every time you plant, you don’t even have to worry much about rotating where certain plants are grown. If you have been cheap about it, and only used one type of compost, you may need to supplement with fertilizer.
My cousin introduced me to this book by Jerry Baker.
I will say, they aren’t well organized, but they contain mountains of organic solutions to gardening problems. For example, here is his recipe to promote growth of tomatoes and melons:
Energizing Earthworm Elixir
2.5 pounds earthworm castings
1/4 pound Epsom salts
2 tablespoons instant tea
Combine and put 1 cup under each transplanted tomato or melon before planting.
I have personally struggled with cabbage worms, spider mites, and aphids. Here are a few solutions to these common problems:
Spider Mite Fighter
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 tablespoon buttermilk
2 quarts water
Combine and apply with a spray bottle. This suffocates the spider mites.
Cabbage Worm Killer
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Combine and sprinkle on cabbage. After they eat it, the flour expands and kills the worms.
To fight aphids, I plant a little basil nearby. I have 10 times less aphids on my lettuce when I do this.
There is nothing more frustrating than watching your plants suffer and die from disease. Even though I live in an arid climate with almost no humidity, my zucchini and squash always suffer from powdery mildew. I think it’s because the leaves get watered by the irrigation from the lawn and nearby park. This concoction works, but you have to be regular and diligent about applying it.
Powdery Mildew Manager
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon Murphy’s Oil Soap
2 tablespoons baking soda
Combine and apply with a spray bottle. Catch it early or you might need to resort to stronger chemical methods.
These are just a few of the many many “recipes” found in the book. If you are interested in chemical-free gardening, I highly recommend purchasing it!