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Tree Talk

The Underworld.

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Forests are much more humanistic than we ever thought. There is an underground world right below our feet. Trees actually speak to one another in a way that humans can understand.

Ecologists like Suzanne Simard have studied forestry for more than two decades. Simard hoped her unbelievable discovery would change how we would practice forestry, from clear-cutting and herbicides to more holistic and sustainable methods. She conducted hundreds of experiments in the forest but this discovery is one for the record books.

Forests are much more than trees competing for survival; it is quite opposite actually. Forests act as a single organism made up on infinite biological pathways that connect trees and allow them to communicate.

Trees are surprisingly social creatures that are dependent upon one another.

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After scientists discovered in a laboratory that one Pine seedling root could transmit carbon to another Pine seedling root, Simard was eager to conduct her own experiment in the forest.

Simard discovered that there is a mass communication underground; like a massive web of hair-like mushroom roots that transmit secret messages between trees, triggering them to share nutrients and water with those in need – information!

In the past, scientists assumed trees were competing with each other for carbon, sunlight, water and nutrients. Simard discovered trees were cooperators.

They communicate by sending chemical and hormonal signals to each other via mycorrhiza – literally means “fungus root.” Mushrooms are a fungus that we see throughout the forest. Below the mushrooms and underneath the ground are fungal threads that form a mycelium – literally means “more than one.” This mycelium infects and colonizes the roots of all trees and plants.

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Simard – “The web is so dense there can be hundreds of kilometers of mycelium under a single foot step.”

The mycelium web connects hub trees with baby trees, allowing them to feed their young.

A single mother tree can provide nourishment for hundreds of smaller trees in the under-story of her branches, she says.

Mother trees even recognize their kin, sending them more mycelium and carbon and reducing their own root size to make room for their babies.

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Forests are complex systems that provide avenues for feedback and adaptation. They have enormous capacity to self heal; that’s if we reduce deforestation.

Mother nature needs to pass her wisdom onto the next generation of trees so they can withstand the future stresses of our destructive universe.

Cut less. Save legacies. Reestablish local forests.

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Watch: Suzanne Simard TED Talk

X, Carly

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The Humane Garden: Free Event

THE HUMANE GARDEN: CULTIVATING COMPASSION FOR ALL CREATURES

A non-profit organization, “Plants For Peace” is hosting a FREE event at Monmouth University that is open to the public! The guest speaker will be Nancy Lawson! She is the author of, The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife and a columnist for All Animals magazine.

ABOUT NANCY LAWSON:

Lawson is a frequent speaker on garden ecology who founded Humane Gardener, an outreach initiative dedicated to animal-friendly landscaping methods. Her book and wildlife habitat have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Oprah Magazine, and other social media platforms. She previously led the creative teams behind the award-winning magazines of The Humane Society of the United States.

Nancy Lawson

 

THE HUMANE GARDEN: CULTIVATING COMPASSION FOR ALL CREATURES

Why do we call some insects “beneficial” while others are “pests”? Why are some plants considered “desirable” while others are “weeds”? In this myth-busting talk, learn how common growing methods divide the natural world into false dichotomies and perpetuate misperceptions about the wild species living among us. Discover practical ways to put humane gardening philosophies into action by protecting wildlife nurseries, eliminating unintended hazards, nurturing plants that provide food and shelter, and humanely resolving conflicts with mammals and other commonly misunderstood creatures.

EVENT DETAILS:

Sunday, April 15, 2018 12:30 pm (serve vegan potluck); 1:00 pm talk begins

Bey Hall Auditorium at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ 

400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, NJ 07764

This event is free and open to the public. Nancy will be doing a book signing after the event; please plan accordingly. 

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WHAT TO BRING TO THE VEGAN SHARE-A-DISH POTLUCK:

All dishes must be completely vegan. They may not contain any meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, or honey. Gelatin is a meat by-product. Please watch out for hidden dairy products, such as whey and casein or caseinate. Please prepare a 4×6 card with the name of the dish and all ingredients. Prepare enough to serve a sufficient sample for at least 8 people (basically, bring enough for a complete meal for two people if that’s all they ate, not that they would). Please bring your own serving dishes and utensils, as well as your own dishes and utensils and cup to eat/drink from; this will help us reduce waste created from single use plastics. The vegan potluck will begin being served at 12:45 pm. Please arrive early to help set up, if you can. We will do our best to be mindful of food waste, and we will compost any potential food scraps.

thats so vegan header

RSVP:
Please email mcharris@monmouth.edu, if you will be attending. Please let them know what vegan dish you will be bringing, if possible. This helps with planning.

 

CONNECT WITH NANCY:

www.humanegardener.com

Facebook.com/humanegardener

Twitter.com/humanegardener

Instagram.com/humanegardener

 

PLANTS FOR PEACE:

This event is hosted by Plants for Peace at Monmouth University. We are 100% volunteer and nonprofit.

Become a Plants for Peace Member | It’s Free!
Please visit https://www.facebook.com/plantsforpeace and follow @plants.forpeace on Instagram.

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Email mcharris@monmouth.edu to be added to our free events email list.

Come meet your local farmer, (me) this Sunday at Monmouth University! 🙂

X, Carly

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Meet Our Crew

Renee.jpgRenee Mongiovi: Founder & Owner of Oasis Backyard Farms. I was introduced to vegetable gardening as a child and back then it was more of a necessity for our family, but I loved it! As I continued to garden into my adult years, gardening became both a wonderful hobby and a way to help others learn more about the benefits of healthy foods. In 2008 I left my corporate job to dedicate myself full time to helping others find the same satisfaction I have found by “Growing Something!” I’d like to introduce you to my wonderfully dedicated, key staff members. Without them, none of this would be possible! Please come visit us on the farm where all the magic, hard work, and inspiration happens.

 

meCarly Whalen (Blogger): Marketing Business Development Manager at Oasis Backyard Farms. I started working with Oasis Backyard Farms in 2016 which guided me into a field that I’ve always had a passion for! I started this blog to share my knowledge with the world and how important it is to strive for what you believe in. For me, the most important resource in our lives is the dirt under our feet. Gardening is the most useful and fascinating hobbies you can learn at any age. It has played a tremendous role in my life and has guided me in a direction that I never thought possible. Utilizing the natural resources available to us and creating a sustainable lifestyle that fits your needs is easier than you think. Don’t be afraid, take chances and live your life to the fullest potential. I want to be apart of this agriculture revolution forever! Eat Local 🌱 Grow Local

Facebook

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Twitter

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LinkedIn: OBF

Website: https://www.oasisbackyardfarms.com/

LinkedIn: Carly Whalen

Say hi, carly@oasisbackyardfarms.com 🙂

 

Bern2.pngBernadette Seneca: This year will be my fourth season at Oasis Backyard Farms.  I have always loved gardening so when I moved to Colts Neck I searched for some help and found OBF. The staff taught me the ins and outs of organic gardening and I loved it. After a few seasons I took over the maintenance of my garden.  In 2014, Renee offered me a job and I’ve been there ever since. There’s nothing like harvesting from your own garden, sharing your bounty with friends and family and of course, eating it all.  My garden is my backyard oasis, my “me” time at 6 a.m. when most people are still in bed; it’s me and the birds. Working at OBF allows me to share my love for gardening with others.

RJ.jpgRJ Poggioli: Since I was a young boy I have had a strong desire to help others and the environment. In response to this desire I have dedicated the last 5 years of my life to gaining hands on experience and learning the art of regenerative/organic/biodynamic agricultural practices. I have had gardening experiences and mentors all over the country and world, from Indiana to India, and the privilege to share the goal of starting a family farm with my younger brother in Howell, NJ. The glorified version of what I aim to do is: Mindfully alter landscapes, while playing in the soil barefoot, which helps Mother Nature to thrive and humans to sustain themselves. Various leisure activities, such as meditation, yoga, cooking delicious meals, drumming, hiking, camping, (and more recently) painting and foraging allow me to dive deep into my Self and bring a heart-centered passion to what I do on the farm. I joined Oasis Backyard Farms in 2014 and have worked on and off since. When I heard about the opportunity to support the CSA that OBF would be starting this season, I eagerly jumped on board. I align myself with OBF’s focus of creating a strong community around nutritious food, while caring for the environment in an ecologically conscious way. OBF has played a large role in helping my brother and I start our own family farm project, and we will continue to work with and support each other as fellow stewards of the land. I love spending my days out in the “green office” and my one wish is to inspire others to find what they love and live it!

Follow Poggioli Farms journey on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PoggioliFarms/ Instagram: @poggioli_farms

 

Version 2David Druze: Hey everybody! I’ve been growing for a few years now but only have about 2 years on the job experience. I started in my backyard and my love for growing evolved from there. I recently moved back here from San Diego where I grew food in people’s yards and at elementary schools. I’m very excited to learn more here in NJ and I’m stoked to join the OBF team! I look forward to working with you all and can’t wait to get started.

Instagram: nj_farmerdave 

Zac.jpgZach Cavaluzzi: Hello all! I have been gardening with my dad in our backyard since I was a toddler and have since picked it up as a hobby. Last year was my first season working OBF and it was great. I am primarily a fine artist and illustrator (bardotnj.com) and am currently entering my second year at Kean University studying graphic design. I look forward to this upcoming growing season with OBF!

 

nicole.JPGNicole Salas: Hi, everyone! I’m so happy to be a part of this team! A little about me, I have only been farming for 2 seasons but am very passionate about it and aspire to someday be a full-time farmer. Until then, you can find me working at Talula’s Pizza or volunteering (aka petting cats) at Catsbury Park, which are both located in Asbury Park. I look forward to this season with my OBF crew!

Email: NicoleBSalas@gmail.com

 

Julie.jpgJulie Mason: Hi all! I have only been gardening for a few years now as a hobby. My passion and love for the earth grew not only through gardening, but with the cultivation of my yoga practice, meditation, and plant-based cooking. I recently just graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute and I am looking forward to the hands on experience of growing the food, rather than preparing it. You can often find me teaching yoga around the area! I look forward to deepening my connection with Mother Earth, and growing this season with the OBF family!

 

Stop by during our farm hours and meet your local farmers 🙂

X, Carly

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Day 4: Butterflies

The Butterfly Effect – the idea that small things can have a non-linear impact on a complex system

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Butterflies teach us to expect the unexpected. By understanding that our eco-systems, our social systems and our economic systems are interconnected, we can foresee and hope to avoid detrimental actions that can impact our long-term presence on earth.

They are found at the base of the food chain and so when butterflies suffer, so does everything else above it creating the “butterfly effect.”

Butterflies are free from family obligations unlike our Honey Bees that you can read about in my last blog post: Day 3 Honeybees.

Being able to cover larger areas than most pollinators, butterflies provide assistance in the genetic variation of plant species. Their lax behavior and immense energy allow them to collect and hold nectar for a long period of time until they reach another flower that could be distances away.

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Given the immeasurable decline in bee population, butterflies are proving to be vital when it comes to our eco-system. As we know, bees carry out a larger percentage of pollination however, butterflies provide our eco-system with genetic diversity as they collect and transport pollen that are good distances from each other.

Genetic diversity within plants that butterflies pollinate will become more resistant to diseases and have a better chance of survival.

Eco-System Value

  • Early warning sign that something is not right – being that butterflies are very fragile insects, their quick reaction to any kind of change in the environment have been recognized by the government as clear indicators of biodiversity and the state at which our environment is in
  • Indicators of a healthy environment + eco-system
  • Areas that are rich in butterflies are rich in invertebrates that provide environmental benefits including pollination and pest control
  • Vital to the food chain – prey for birds, bats and others
  • Butterflies allow ecologists to study the impact of habitat loss, fragmentation and climate change

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Scientific Value

  • Help understand climate change
  • Used to study biological research – pest control, genetics, evolution, population dynamics, biodiversity conservation

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Butterfly Garden Necessities

  • Color is important – adult butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blossoms that are flat-topped, clustered or have short flower tubes that require full sun.
  • Plant native flowering plants – install native plants local to your geographic area. Native plants provide butterflies with the nectar they need as adults and caterpillars.
  • Plant flowers that consistently bloom – Butterflies need nectar throughout their entire adult phase. Plant consistently; when a flower dies plant another.
  • Stop using pesticides – Pesticides get a bad rep, especially the toxic ones. Find pesticides that are natural and organic to decrease the death of many butterflies.
  • A place for “puddling” – Butterflies will extract minerals from puddles on the muddy ground as drinking water.
  • Provide a resting place – Butterflies need places to dry off and get ready for flight. Adding flat stones in your garden or large pebbles can give them a place to rest before takeoff.

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Plants that attract Butterflies

  • Alyssum
  • Aster
  • Bee Balm
  • Calendula
  • Daylily
  • Sage
  • Marigold
  • Hollyhock
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Calendula
  • Cosmos
  • Zinnia
  • Fennel

Fun Facts:

  1. Butterflies taste with their feet
  2. Butterfly eyes are made of 6,000 lenses and can see ultraviolet lights like the color red
  3. Butterflies are essentially cold-blooded
  4. Butterfly wings move in a figure 8 motion
  5. Butterflies have a long, tube-like tongue called a “Proboscis” that allows them to soak up their food rather than sip it
  6. Butterflies are found on every continent expect Antarctica

 

I hope you enjoyed Bug Week!

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Please send in any suggestions or questions you would like me to blog about at Carly@oasisbackyardfarms.com !

X, Carly

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Day 3: Honeybees

Bug Week: Bees

Honeybees

Bees are facing a serious threat…this is not news.

Since 2006, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has disrupted thousands of bee colonies in the country. Pollinators contribute to about $24 billion dollars to the U.S economy while Honeybees account for more than $15 billion dollars through their vital roles in our environment and agricultural industries.

This phenomenon occurs when a majority of bees in a colony disappear and leave the queen bee, babies and a few nurse bees behind. Without mature worker bees to bring back nectar and pollen, the colony will collapse and die.

A series of symptoms have been addressed but the cure has remained a mystery. The main causes of CCD include loss of habitat, environmental factors, pesticides, parasites and diseases.

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It is up to us to keep our bees safe!

Bee Lifecycle

Egg – The queen bee lays around 300-2,000 eggs per day. Some eggs are fertilized while others are not. The fertilized egg will develop into a female worker bee and the unfertilized egg will develop into a male drone bee! After 3 days, the eggs will hatch.

Larva – During the first two days of birth, the microscopic larval do not have eyes or legs so worker bees individually feed them with, “royal jelly” for about 6 days.

Pupa – The transition from larva to pupa is quite fascinating. The pupa illuminates and becomes a full-grown queen, worker or drone bee. First, the eyes will develop following the wings, legs and other body parts.

Adult – The adult stage begins when bees are fully grown and are ready to fulfill their roles!

  • Adult queen bees will lay their eggs.
  • Adult worker bees spend the first few weeks working within the hive and in the final weeks they will forage for food and gather pollen + nectar to create honey.
  • Adult drone bee’s responsibility is solely mating with the queen bee.

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What is pollination?

It is simply the way plants achieve fertilization and genetic diversity.

How Do Bees Pollinate?

The most important aspect of a bee’s life involves pollination. Pollination is needed for plants to reproduce and thrive during our garden season. When Honeybees collect nectar and pollen from flower, vegetable or fruit blossoms, some pollen from the flowers male reproductive organ (stamens) sticks to the bee’s hair. When they visit their next flower, some of this gathered pollen is rubbed off onto the tip of the female reproductive organ of the flower (Stigma). When fertilization occurs, the plant will produce seeds, which supports the associated plant to procreate and form fruit.

pollenation

 

What Are The Benefits Of Pollination?

Pollination is what gives us our amazing produce each season! Every vegetable, fruit, nut, flower and other plants we eat, require pollination and without it we would be directly affected.

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How Does Pollination Benefit Bees?

Bees store the pollen they collect in their comb cells and use it as nutrition for nurse bees. Nurse bees are vital in the honeycomb habitat. They care for the larva by secreting the pollen into “royal jelly” for the larva – a combination of honey, pollen and enzymes. Honey or “royal jelly” is necessary for the larva to grow!

Where Does Honey Come From?

Mature worker bees will forage for pollen + nectar from rich-flowers. They suck out the liquid nectar and store it inside his honey stomach. After his tummy is full, enzymes within his stomach will break down the nectar into simple sugars that will not crystallize. With their full honey tummies, they will return to the hive and deliver the nectar to the younger worker bees. The hive bees will break down the nectar until it is ready to be placed inside the honeycomb.

When the nectar is ready to be placed inside the combs,  hive bees will flap their wings aggressively until the water inside in the jelly has been evaporated. The sugar nectar thickens from them fanning their wings,  creating our sweet honey! Once the process is finished, the hive bees will cover the beeswax cell and store for later use.

honeycomb

How Much Does A Honeybee Produce A Year?

A Honeybee can produce over 200 pounds of honey each year!

Support our bee population starting with the basics…

  • Understand how important honeybees are to agricultural and our environment!
  • Save the bees by planting these: Lavender, thyme, cilantro, borage, sage, fennel, hollyhock, crocus, buttercup, snowdrop, geranium, and aster.
  • STOP using toxic pesticides in the garden and lawn care.
  • Leave patches of bare dirt that are free of mulch or turf to allow for ground-nesting bees to build a home.
  • Create a nesting site for bee homes in your yard far away from your house but close enough to the garden.
  • Always have a birdbath that bees can forage water from.

 Eat local + Buy Local

  • Shop at local farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
  • Buy raw, properly sourced honey
  • Plant a garden with Oasis Backyard Farms and grow something with us!
  • Reduce your everyday impact on the environment – lower your carbon footprint.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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X,Carly

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Day 2: Beneficial Bugs

Let beneficial bugs do your dirty work! Not all insects are pests. Eliminate and control garden pests with knowing their natural biological enemies! Attracting beneficial bugs play an important role in our eco-system, especially in the garden.

Lady Bugs

The amazing ladybug kills and fights off some of the largest pests in our garden! This includes most of our piercing/sucking pests such as: Stink bugs, aphids, whiteflies and mites. It may not happen as fast as we would like, but over time they will eliminate more than the bare eye can see.

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Did you know ladybug larvae could eat up to 40 aphids an hour?

Attracted by:

  • Fennel
  • Dill
  • Alyssum
  • Coriander
  • Tansy
  • Calendula

Praying Mantis

This green giant is an ambush predator who has a huge appetite for pests in your garden! Adults will grow up to 5 inches! They lie quietly in prayer position while eyeing their food. Their forearms move at lightning speed snatching up large insects like grasshoppers, beetles, roaches, moths and mosquitos.

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The best way to attract Praying Mantises is by planting shrubbery around your yard. Females choose shrubbery and larger ground cover to protect their egg cases away from predators like birds before it is to time hatch.

Attracted by:

  • Fennel
  • Spearmint
  • Caraway
  • Shrubbery

Earthworms

Boosting your earthworm reproduction rate is easier than ever! Their feeding works to decompose organic material and recycle nutrients all while creating a substantial foundation for your plants.

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The best way to attract earthworms in your garden is to give them a nutrient rich environment by adding compost to your soil! Add in natural products right from your kitchen by composting each season. 

Braconid Wasps

Hornworm caterpillars are the worst pests to have in your garden! They will devour an entire tomato crop right when you say, “I’ll harvest that tomorrow!” Nothing excites a gardener more than finding this green giant covered in white eggs laid by a braconid wasp. LEAVE him alone; the larvae will take care of him for you! Eventually, the caterpillar will die off the branch it is stuck to.

Braconid illustrationHorn worm illustration

Attracted by:

  • Fern-Leaf Yarrow
  • Lemon Balm
  • Parsley
  • Shrubbery

Ground Beetles

The busy ground beetle has a big appetite for almost anything that he can catch. Being very limited to the soil, they will forage for bugs like earworms, slugs and Colorado potato beetles. To attract a diversity of beetles in your garden, plant a number of different species and trees that provide protection and more food for them to eat!

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Attracted by:

  • Clover
  • Amaranthus
  • Evening Primrose

Green Lacewings

The larvae of a green lacewing are about ½ an inch long that bear delicate wings hence their name, “Lace” wings. They can eat up to 200 aphids and other prey each week! They are not picky eaters and will eat a wide range of pests that include: Mites, whiteflies, thrips, aphids, caterpillars, and leafhoppers.

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Attracted by:

  • Dill
  • Angelica
  • Coriander
  • Golden Marguerite

 Stay connected with me on Day 3 of Bug week!

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X, Carly

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Bug Week

Welcome to bug week!

This week I will cover garden pests, beneficial insects, bees and butterflies!

Stay connected with my “bug week” blogs over the course of the next few days to learn more about what every gardener should know during the season!

As we know, the best part about being a gardener is the immense beauty a garden brings to our backyard during the peak of summer. Lets face it; even the healthiest gardens will encounter bugs eating away at our timely investment. A huge part about a successful garden occurs with knowing the difference between pests and beneficial insects.

Sometimes, we have to control and mitigate any unwarranted parts of our business; it’s part of the job! I encourage you to prepare for those garden pests prior to the season. Luckily, there are ways to keep out unwanted pests using nontoxic methods!

Here are a few pointers I found important before I dive into bug week! Don’t be afraid, we’ve got you covered on the ins and outs of what’s in your garden.

What are garden pests?

  • Any insect or animal inhibiting your garden creating a negative impact. Pests are grouped together according the way they damage plants.

What are beneficial insects?

  • Any of a number of species of insects that perform valued services like pollination and pest control.

So, what’s a Jersey gardener to do about the upcoming season?

  • Research and read my blog on the difference between pests and beneficial bugs!
  • Gather a natural pest control plan.
  • Scout your garden for any problems early on and during the season.
  • Become familiar with organic/natural insecticides —  DIY remedies and over the counter products.

Where do pests attack?

  • Roots, stems, leaves, flowers, soil & your beautiful produce (the worst!)

What should you know about integrated pest management?

  • Read the label thoroughly and follow directions!
  • ALWAYS buy products that have an OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute) seal on it meaning it is organically approved!
  • Never use toxic pesticides
  • Choose pest control that is as specific to the pest as possible
  • Only spray as needed
  • Use safe insecticides like Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) among many other products. This is OBF’s go to spray for leafy pests!
  • Only apply sprays when the sun is low in the sky. You don’t want your plants to sunburn!
  • Spray plants generously and in direct contact with the pests, not from above!
  • Do not drown your plant in sprays. Give the plant a day or two to react to your integrated method.

What plants repel pests?

  • Maximize your garden with natural pest control using plants that repel pests and attract beneficial bugs
  • All and any herbs
  • Ornamental Flowers
  • Carnivorous Plants

The first topic I will discuss is harmful pests within our gardens and how to control them! Stay connected with me during #Bugweek

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X, Carly