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Chemical-Free Gardening

Spring is full swing and you may already be dreading the inevitable invasion of weeds and if you're growing a garden, the inevitable invasion of caterpillars and aphids. As a holistic practitioner I take all areas of life into consideration when working with my health. I therefore find it crucial to minimize exposure to toxins and poisons in my environment whenever possible. Naturally I avoid adding pesticides and roundup to my immediate space where my pets and daughter play. I have found 2 natural and easy solutions to weeds and pests in the garden that I would like to share with you today. I have included 2 links to specific materials you may need.

One is the environmentally neutral

called ammonium sulfate. First of all, sulfate is an essential molecule that is required building block to DNA and many physical structures in nature. The addition of sulfate will brighten any garden and improve sulfate availability for your trees. The ammonium that it is bound to in the fertilizer is an acid builder. It is well known that the soil in Northern Colorado is alkaline clay. Dandelions love alkaline soil and thrive in this environment. If you add an acid builder, the weeds won't be able to take root and will quickly fizzle out from your yard.

I have used this year after year to beautify my lawn using a

to distribute the granules evenly over the area of ground I wish to cover. This is useful when you have to cover a significant surface area and don't want to get the fertilizer on your hands. The fertilizer needs to be applied about once a month in Colorado as the soil is pretty dense clay and rain fall does eventually wash it away. I like to get the large bag that lasts through the whole summer. This trick is time and money saving. While your neighbors are busy weeding by hand and poisoning their land and our waterways, you can relax in the sun with a cold beverage.

My other favorite gardening hack is the paper wasp! Now most people panic when they see any kind of sting-bearing insect... however these guys are not aggressive (I have never been attacked or stung) and should not be mistaken for yellow jackets, which nest low to the ground and will sting you any chance that they get. Paper wasps are expert hunters of larva, aphids, rollie polies and grass hoppers. Every year I allow colonies of paper wasps to return to my shed. They enjoy hanging their nests from a roof or within a large bell hanging on my patio. You may consider installing a covered wood structure that gets moderate sun exposure away from your house if you do not wish to have them in your immediate vicinity.

The opening of your structure should face down to protect them from rain, but allow the nest to be warmed by sunlight in the morning or afternoon. This is akin to bug hotels for solitary bees, but will bring you much more joy by taking care of your garden pests while you can take your dog for a walk or go for a hike. Once they find your location, they will leave for cold season to hibernate and return in the spring to the safe place they grew up in. After allowing colonies the freedom to thrive, any problems with bugs eating my cruciferous plants and leafy greens.

Pictured above is a large nail protruding from the side of the shed wall, which they have used as a foundation for their hive. If you respect them, they will work for you as your personal gardener :)

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