Trusting Mother Nature

On most days, if you ask me, I would say my faith in Mother Nature is pretty strong. I believe that She is wise and totally self-reliant. She doesn’t need our interference to keep things going or do things right.

My faith was tested two weeks ago, however, when I noticed my garden – one head of lettuce in particular – was overrun with ants. This didn’t happen last year, so I was surprised and worried. Yes, they were on lettuce, so perhaps they were having an aphid feast. But still, I had visions that they would tunnel through my entire garden and destroy everything. (Oh, the drama!)

I immediately ran to several stores in town to buy diatomaceous earth, only to find that no one around here carried it. A few days later, I dropped $30 on a 5 pound box of it that I found online. When I feel my garden is threatened, I pull out all the big guns! (And apparently, lots of money from my poor wallet.)

While waiting for it to arrive, I talked to a local farmer about my ant problem, asking her what I should do. She asked if they had damaged any crops. I said no – even though they were literally covering my lettuce heads, the lettuce appeared to be unharmed. Then she said, “Ants are helpers. They eat all the other little bugs around, and if they aren’t hurting your crops, I’d just let them be.”

Suddenly, I realized what I’d done – lost faith in Mother Nature. This tends to happen when things swing out of balance. I forget that Mother Nature is perfectly capable of rebalancing things all on Her own.

I see this happen a lot with myself and others when it comes to beauty. Our hair gets a little oily one day, and we feel panicky and start to wash our hair more often not realizing that this throws our hair too far in the OTHER direction. We get a pimple and worry that more will follow. The next thing we know, we are smearing on benzoyl peroxide and salycylic acid, not realizing how deeply this is disrupting the balance of our skin, potentially causing MORE pimples.

So guess what happened the day my diatomaceous earth arrived? I went outside to the garden and the ants were gone. Just like that. They had eaten their aphid feast (presumably) and then went along their merry way, leaving my garden as pristine as it was before they had arrived. The picture of the lettuce above is the one they had swarmed for a week – as you can see, it is perfect! (Boy, I wish I could get that $30 back!)

Just a little reminder to trust Mother Nature. Trust your own body to find its perfect balance. Do less to your skin, to your hair and let its natural beauty come out on its own. Mother Nature will always find balance whether its your garden or your body!

Planning Your Eco-Friendly Yard and Garden

Now that warmer weather is here, many people find themselves trying to create a more eco-friendly yard and garden. Here are a few ideas for you:

Copyright: Five Seed

Consider replacing grass with eco-friendly alternatives

Though grassy lawns are the suburban standard for landscaping beauty, they aren’t eco-friendly. Lawns require a lot of water and care and the only payoff is that they look pretty (to some). You can still have a beautiful yard without your lawn, however. Have you considered the benefits of an edible front or back yard? Imagine being able to pick veggies or herbs for dinner right from your front porch. Check out this amazing transformation from a grassy front yard, to an edible knot garden.

If you aren’t interested in planting anything, and want to keep some of your lawn, try a decorative rock garden, planted with a few native trees or shrubs, and some flowering plants. Rock gardens are great for the budget, especially in areas were natural rocks are abundant (like here in Central Oregon, where we have tons of volcanic rock!).

Be savvy about irrigation

When it comes to watering your lawn, make sure you know your city’s irrigation regulations. Stick to the rules – repeated violations can lead to fines. These irrigation regulations help cut back on water usage, which helps the community, the environment, and your pocketbook.

To further reduce your water use, try low-pressure drip hoses, which can reduce water usage by up to 70%. If you are able, attach livestock tanks to rain gutter downspouts, to catch rain water. You can also dump the gray water from your house into this tank. Rain and gray water are a cheap and green way to irrigate your lawn and garden.

Compost, compost, compost

Compost fertilizes the soil, and won’t burn your lawn or crops like chemical fertilizers. Best of all, it is made from organic materials, and is non-toxic, so it won’t harm children or pets playing on the lawn or in the garden. It is easy to make your own compost (which reduces your trash output).

Keep pests out the natural way

Instead of using dangerous chemical poisons, try deterring pests the natural way. Save cut hair and spread around your garden, or hang it from trees in muslin bags to keep deer and rabbits away. Marigolds planted between vegetables in the garden will deter many insects while adding decorative value. Click here for more useful tips.

Plant native foliage and crops that thrive in the area

Using native plants is a wonderful way to add visual interest to your garden while keeping your garden eco-friendly. Native plants reduce irrigation, and are low-maintenance, as they are already accustomed to the climate. These plants will keep your water bill down, and will require much less upkeep.

This post was updated from my previously published article over at Examiner.

Five natural, eco-friendly ways to keep pests out of your garden

Chemical pesticides are dangerous poisons. Using these in your garden can contaminate your homegrown produce, and exposure to these chemicals can cause serious health problems for you and your children. If you need to keep the pests out of your garden this year, you can successfully accomplish this task  with a few natural, eco-friendly items.

Copyright: Five Seed


Coffee grounds

Spreading coffee grounds around your garden not only keeps away moles, gnats, snails and slugs, but it is a great fertilizer. (Additionally, you can spread this onto your lawn before watering, which will keep it green and healthy.)


Peppermint essential oil

A few drops of this oil in water sprayed onto your plants will keep ants away. You can also moisten pieces of fabric with peppermint essential oil and place them around the garden to deter rodents, rabbits, and squirrels.


Diatomaceous earth

This product is made from fossilized algae. You can sprinkle it in your garden, and when insects walk over it, it sticks to their exoskeletons, drawing out the lipids. This eventually causes them to dehydrate and die. Diatomaceous earth claims to be safe for humans and pets. Use it sparingly, however, as it will kill the helpful insects, as well, like ladybugs and spiders.


Liquid castile soap

Mix 2 tablespoons of castile soap and 1 quart of water and spray onto your plants. This will keep many different insects away, including moths. Again, use this sparingly, as too much soap will potentially damage your plants.


Spices

Try sprinkling your garden with red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or turmeric. This can deter ants, rabbits, gophers, rats, and a number of other unwanted creatures. Crushed garlic can also help, or water that crushed garlic has been soaking in. Garlic is also a great natural fungicide. Just be careful, as using it too often, or using it on crops that don’t need it can be damaging to your garden.

And just to throw in one more, you can pour beer into shallow cups or jar lids and lay them in the garden beds. They attract and kill slugs.

This post was updated from my previously published article over at Examiner.