6. Finding Calmness in the Chaos
6.1 Natural Pest Control
Not all creatures are harmful in your garden, and some may even be beneficial. For example, you might spot frogs, foxes, or hedgehogs balancing the ecosystem. In addition, pollinators, such as bees, may appear with the help of different flowers.
Growing flowers in your kitchen garden can attract pollinators that help to fertilize your vegetables. For instance, planting comfrey can result in a delightful bee invasion during summer.
It is common to see green, white, and black flies on young shoots, which ants later raise as food. Leaving the flies alone is best if you see ladybugs or ladybirds nearby, as nature takes care of them. However, we might need to intervene if there is a more severe problem.
Butterflies may be attractive in the garden but also bring hungry caterpillars. To save your leaves, check for eggs beforehand.
"By helping nature, we defend our crops."
Our walls primarily consist of concrete foundations and wooden panels that prevent good and bad creatures from entering.
"Try using sacrificial plants like nasturtiums instead."
As said, flowers lure insects and birds to your garden. However, bugs also are repelled by planting marigolds, basil, and oregano with your crops.
Remember as well that slugs and snails love to eat young seedlings. Coffee grounds, sharp sand, and cracked eggshells may help deter them. Netting also helps keep larger predatory animals and insects out.
Organic practices are healthier for your plants, food, and the environment. Strong and healthy plants may withstand attacks, but larger animals like deer or rabbits cause severe damage. Therefore, protecting them early on is better than redoing everything later. We must not obsess too much over prevention. Instead, start by selecting the right seeds, and complementary planting with other odor-producing plants helps repel attacks.
6.2 Cultivating Peace and Serenity
We may have incredibly bountiful years in the garden with hardly any pests or attacks. Sometimes, I get so caught up in the joy of gardening that I even forget to pick my strawberries, only to discover them untouched the following day. With this confidence, I began preparing my young seedlings in trays and potting them up without any concerns. I was surprised when I discovered a medium-sized frog managing the garden quite nicely.
It is important to remember that nature comes with a friend and foe. We must cooperate with nature to have a successful garden instead of fighting it. Gardening works best when we find peace and serenity amidst the potential chaos of the natural world.
6.3 Preventing Weed Growth
Non-invasive weeds are helpful in pollinating fruits and vegetables by attracting insects with their blooms. Even though some plants are considered "weeds" and not wanted in a particular area, they still benefit insects and enhance the garden's beauty.
However, when adding weeds to the compost, be cautious as they may continue to grow and spread.
Planting new crops closely together is a smart strategy in the vegetable garden, as it reduces the amount of bare soil and helps to control weeds.
I also like to leave some weeds to grow to see what might appear, as stray calendulas, violas, and poppies add lovely pops of color to the garden.
It is crucial to start with the ones that reoccur. While hoeing the surface, we cut many small weeds. Others have deep root systems that require more caution. For example, you must carefully remove the horsetail's intricate root system to prevent regrowth. Bindweed is another problematic weed to eliminate, as its roots are widely dispersed and deeply buried. Some weeds have taproots that are challenging to remove, such as dandelion and dock.
Smothering them with mulch limits their access to light and prevents them from reseeding to eradicate them.
6.4 Introduce Winter Cover Crops
Although the no-dig method has many benefits, removing stubborn weeds may require deeper digging. Unfortunately, even this method is not fully effective in preventing weed growth. With seeds floating in the air, new weeds will continue to appear. Covering the soil with cardboard or tarp sheets, or garden mulch helps to reduce the number of weeds that sprout up.
We also cover the ground through winter with cover crops of grasses which capture nitrogen in the air. Some crops include Winter Rye, Crimson Clover, Hairy Vetch, and more.
These stop soil erosion and hold onto nutrients that may get washed out. Remember to cut them before they seed in spring, as they will grow all year.