Monday, December 15, 2014

Understanding Fertilizers and Pest Control in your Home Garden

Fertilizers

In addition to requiring the right environment to thrive, all food plants require certain nutrients and, at times, special chemicals in order to grow properly.

In a truly natural, forest or field or mountainside you will find many plants growing that have adapted to the specific light, water, seasonal and soil conditions that exist in that area.
These plants have adapted to their environment over centuries and are able to thrive and reproduce there.

But when you grow a garden you will find that you have two serious problems. Most garden vegetables grown today have been bred to produce a proper crop under far more specialized conditions than nature typically provides, in the wild.



For example, a tomato plant growing in the wild might have only a few tomatoes on it while one grown in a garden is expected to generate a dozen or even more tomatoes on it.

Many garden plants have been bred to product large and abundant crops only if planted properly, in the right amount of sunlight, given specific amounts of water and drainage, and acceptable amounts of the right nutrients.

To this end, you need to understand what fertilizers are and how to decode their strange names and applications.

There are essentially three levels of required nutrients needed for most plants to grow.

The first necessary level of nutrients includes the elements normally taken by the plant from the air, and these are Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen.

The second level of required nutrients are required in different levels by different plants and they are Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (or Potash).

A bag of fertilizer will usually have three numbers labeled on the bag, such as 10-8-12. This means that the specific fertilizer mixture contains; 10% Nitrogen, 8% Phosphorous and 12% Potassium. The rest of the bags content is often just filler and is useless to the plants.

The third level of often-required nutrients, called micronutrients is Calcium, Magnesium and Sulfur. Along with these are some other specialized nutrients that many plants can need including Boron, Cobalt, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum and Zinc. All of these necessary chemicals are typically available in healthy soil.

To fertilize and encourage a plants growth, under most conditions, only the standard three chemicals; Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium, are needed to give a food plant what it needs.

The typical bag of fertilizer will be labeled with instructions for how much should be spread onto the soil for proper plant growth.

Organic Fertilizers

There are a number of special Organic fertilizers available in garden shops.

Some of the more widely used organic fertilizers are; Blood Meal, Compost, Composted Manure, Cottonseed Meal, Fish Emulsion, Green Sand and Super Phosphate among others.

A gardener can check on these if they want to grow more naturally fed foods.

PESTICIDES

The bane of every gardener is the existence of pest insects that will pounce invariably onto your beautiful crops and eat them before your very eyes.

Although certain insects are necessary and desired because they aid in the cross-pollination of many crop plants, most are just pests that need to be managed.

Do Not use dangerous Pesticide Chemicals

A responsible gardener will not use most of the garden chemicals that are on the market today. Many have already been proven to be unhealthy on one form or another and many more are being found to be just as dangerous for human consumption almost every day.

Alternative methods of pest control, especially for the gardener, are typically cheaper to use than these chemicals that are available at every garden supply.

Chemical Pesticide Dangers

To control insects, there are many types of pesticides available. Your typical pesticide is a chemical concoction or biological mixture that either kills or incapacitates the pest.

They are classified as; herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, to name a few that are pest specific.

The problem with most pesticides is that they can also have an effect on the health of a human who might come in contact with them, thus making many of them toxic to one degree or another.

“Not so Bad” Chemicals.

So, now that I’ve banned the use of all chemicals, at least in your mind, I have to qualify my statements against all chemicals.

In all honesty, there are some effective chemicals that are simple and safe to use on garden foods and plants if they are used properly.  Remember to read those labels and look up the definitions as well as the good and the bad points on their use, before you turn to chemical pest controls.

Hydrogen Peroxide as a Pest Control

I will mention one chemical that can do a good job controlling insects and that is Hydrogen Peroxide. Mix a solution of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide and Distilled water in a sprayer.

Then just spray the leaves of your infected food plant and the insects will slowly die.
The Hydrogen will be absorbed into the insect’s shells and kill them.

And, the Hydrogen Peroxide itself will slowly break down into its base elements of Hydrogen and Oxygen, leaving no polluting chemical residue.

Alternative Pest Control Methods

There are even some popular types of pest control machines and devices that can be used to effectively and safely to control pests without harming Humans.

Some of the more popular non-Toxic pest control tools are;

  • Ultraviolet lights, 
  • Sound Generators, 
  • Insect Traps, 
  • Ground Vibrators, 
  • Water Treatment units, and 
  • Air Treatment units to name a few of the most popular. 


Each of these has been shown to provide some level of pest control that is effective and at the same time not dangerous to human health.

Many farmers have found that there are often even more natural ways to control specific pests quite efficiently. See the chapter; Natural Insect Repellants for information on plants that will repel certain insects.

By applying a more natural attack strategy against your garden pests you will find that your garden produces safer and healthier produce for you and your family.