I was reading an interesting article about Organic Gardening, found here and wanted to share the Question/Answer portion, which I found interesting.

How often should a garden be weeded?

Weeds may often look unthreatening, but they steal water and nutrients from your vegetables, so pull them when you see them. This is especially important early on.

What’s the best fertilizer?

The better question to ask is, “What does my garden need?” Contact your county or state agricultural extension service to get a soil test. (Utah State has a great one) This will diagnose your dirt’s nutrients, pH, and texture. “It will help you avoid adding unnecessary nutrients, which can cause problems for your garden,” says Linda Chalker-Scott, associate professor of horticulture at Washington State University.

What’s an easy way to protect fruit trees from being attacked by bugs?

Look in your kitchen drawer. Plastic sandwich bags can serve as a shield, and they won’t interfere with growth. When the fruit is the size of a quarter, place a bag around each one and staple it shut. Cut a small hole in the corner to let water escape, and leave the bag on until harvest. In very hot climates, try using panty hose as a barrier. (I have never tried this myself, but if you try it let me know how it works out for you).

Will releasing ladybugs and earthworms improve a garden’s health?

While lady beetles—the correct name—do consume harmful pests like aphids, the ones you import probably won’t stick around to do so. Lady beetles sold in stores “have been hibernating,” Gillman says. “When they wake up, their instinct is to fly away.”

Earthworms are superb garden multitaskers. They aerate the soil, digest organic matter and provide nutrients for roots to absorb, and create an environment that encourages beneficial microbes. So, should you get some from the garden center? No. If you have healthy soil worms are already there. And if you don’t, work in compost or aged manure to your garden, and they’ll come on their own.

There are many old wives’ tales about how various foods and kitchen scraps can be used to help gardens. Are any of these claims valid?

Eggshells are a good source of calcium, essential for tomatoes; without it, they develop brown patches known as blossom-end rot. Just crush the shells and sprinkle the bits on the soil.

In a later post, I will also explain how to use milk and peppers to make an organic spray to ward off pests and mildew. Happy Gardening, from The Red Barn!