Maintenance Outdoor Gardening

5 Things to Do to Maintain Your Garden

Everyone loves a beautiful garden. But not everyone knows how to maintain a garden or has the inclination to. Our advice is to keep up with regular maintenance so that your prior efforts in establishing your garden don’t go to waste! With minimal regular efforts, you can enjoy your beautiful garden for years to come.

So, here are our top 5 tips on what you need to do regularly to maintain your garden:

1. Remove weeds and grass

Removing weeds and grass before planting anything in the garden will save you a lot of angst in the long run. Firstly, you will not have to spend too much time controlling weeds later on. Secondly, your plants will have less competition for nutrients and moisture if there are no competing weeds.

Start by digging up and loosening soil, so that you can remove weeds and grass. Then top up with a layer of good quality soil and compost. Finally, mulch the garden bed to reduce access for weeds to take root in soil. You will have to remove weeds that pop up from time to time to keep your garden neat, tidy and healthy.

If you are digging up a patch of the garden which was previously full of weeds or grass, you might want to consider placing a weed mat over the area for a few months. This will help to kill any weeds since they will be starved of sunlight. After a few months, you may remove the weed mat and plant into that section of the garden.

2. Feed the soil

Feed the soil regularly. Good quality soil with the required nutrients means your plants will be healthier, stronger and therefore, will thrive where you plant them. Adding organic material like compost or well-rotted manure to the garden bed will keep your garden looking great all year round.

3. Choose the right spot for the plants

Before planting into the ground, survey the spot during different times of the day to guage how much light the spot receives in a day. Then place a suitable plant in that spot. If the spot is shady most of the day, plant something that prefers shady spots. If the spot receives sunlight for a good part of the day, then a plant that thrives in full sun will love that spot. Failing to do so may mean that your plants will die shortly after being planted in that spot.

4. Check for pests regularly

Casting your eye over your plants and garden regularly helps you to spot problems well before they become too difficult to overcome. If you spot aphids or other pests, you can take spray with pest killer well before they cause serious damage to your plants.

5. Clear debris from the garden regularly

Clearing your garden of debris will not only help it to look good but also reduce spots where pests can hide. It is also important to harvest fruits as they ripen and remove any diseased plants before the infection spreads to other plants. Deadheading flowers will also help to prolong flowering season.

There you go, just taking these 5 steps to maintain your garden at least on a weekly to fortnighly basis will go a long way to ensuring that you have a beautiful garden that is a joy to relax in for years to come.

Maintenance Outdoor Gardening

Natural Pest Control Remedies

Pest control are an ongoing issue that every gardener faces. There are many pest control products available on the market. However, if you are into organic vegetable gardening, have young children or pets, then you may be rightfully concerned about using commercially prepared pesticides. Besides companion planting, natural pest control remedies may just be the strategy for you.

Here are our top 10 tips natural pest control methods for your garden:

1. Introduce insect predators

If you have an aphid problem, a natural pest control method is to introduce aphid predators. This includes ladybirds, green and brown lacewings.

2. Soap spray insecticide

Soap sprays are a great defence against aphids, mites and thrips. Dilute a tablespoon of liquid soap (ensure it is additive-free) in a litre of water, then spray onto the affected leaves using a spray bottle. Be sure not to NOT spray it on a hot sunny day. Evenings and early mornings are better times to use a soap spray insecticide.

3. Oil spray insecticide

Oil sprays work by coating the bodies of the insects with oil. This suffocates them, as oil will block the pores through which they breathe.

Mix 250 ml of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of soap, shake it thoroughly, and then when ready to apply, add 2 teaspoons of the oil spray mix with 1 litre of water. Again shake thoroughly, then spray directly on the surfaces of affected plants. As with the soap spray, do not spray during the hotter part of the day.

4. Tomato leaf insecticide

If you do not like the idea of using soap and oil in your garden, the tomato leaf insecticide may be an alternative. Tomato plants are part of the nightshade family, so they contain alkaloids which can effectively control aphids and other insects. If you have tomato plants in your garden, chop 2 cups of fresh tomato leaves into 1 litre of water. Let it sit overnight. Then strain out the plant material and spray onto affected plants.

5. Chilli pepper insecticide

Ever bitten into a fresh chilli peppers and regretted it? Well, that’s your solution for insects as well! Blend or puree fresh chilli pepper with water in the proportion of 1:2. Then dilute it with 4 times the amount of water and boil it. Once the mixture has been cooled, strain out the chilli pepper material and pour it into a spray bottle. Be careful to keep it away from your own eyes, nose and mouth for obvious reasons!

6. Neem oil insecticide

Neem oil is bio-degradable and non-toxic to pets and wildlife. It is a hormone disruptor, capable of disrupting the life cycle of insects at all stages (adult, larvae, and egg), making it a great resource for the organic gardener. It also doubles up as a natural fungicide and can be used for powdery mildew and other fungal infections on plants. Mix 2 teaspoons of neem oil, 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap and shake them thoroughly with 1 litre of water. Then spray it on affected plants or even as a preventative measure on healthy plants.

7. Garlic insecticide

Due to its pungent aroma, garlic can act as an insect repellent. Take 2 whole bulbs of garlic (not just cloves!), puree them with a small amount of water. Let the mixture sit overnight, then strain it into a jar, then add it to an oil spray insecticide (see no. 3 above). Spray liberally all over the garden. It might even keep Count Dracula away! (Just kidding!)

8. Diatomaceous earth

If sprays are not your preferred method, then diatomaceous earth may suit. Diatomaceous earth is a powder containing about 80%-90% silica made from the sediment of fossilised algae found in bodies of water. It is thought to kill insects by dehydrating them or drying them out. All you need to do is simply dust the ground around your plants, or even sprinkle it on the foliage, where it will help control snails and slugs as well as other crawling insects. Remember to re-apply it after watering your garden or a rainy day, but after the ground and foliage are dry.

9. Pest control traps

Pheromone-based pest control traps work well for stink bugs and other pest insects including moths. These are a small glue traps that are come with a small vial of sex pheromone that will be placed on the trap. Sex pheromones are hormones scents that are usually emitted by the female insect and picked up by the male as a cue for mating. Male pests are drawn to the trap for the purpose of mating and are then caught. This is not always preferred by gardeners as it is a slow-death for the trapped insects who are stuck onto the glue.   

10. Physical barriers

Physical barriers, such as bird netting, tulle fabric and chicken wire netting, are useful for keeping out rabbits, caterpillars and birds away from your vegetables or fruit crops.