Posts Tagged 'gardening tips'

Where to Find Non-GMO Seeds–And Other Resources

In case you haven’t ordered your seeds yet, here is a great resource to find companies that do not support the proliferation of genetically modified organisms:

The Safe Seed Pledge was launched in 1999 by the nonpartisan Council for Responsible Genetics and, according to the organizations Web site, is part of a larger project to educate people about the risks associated with widespread genetic engineering of our food supply.

The Safe Seed Pledge has been taken by more than 100 companies committed to ensuring that, to the best of their knowledge, the seeds they sell are non-GMO. The pledge states, in part:

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative,

We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.

CRG is a fascinating organization. Here’s another link about its intention by developing the Safe Seed Pledge:

Gardening Company Reviews on Dave’s Garden

While researching a question posed to me on Twitter about a particular seed company, I stumbled across a handy, free, reader-generated review page on

More than 6,600 mail-order gardening companies are listed here. Readers are encouraged to review their faves–and not-so faves. There is a Top 30 list (companies with the most positive reviews in the database) and the section is easy to navigate. Beware of the banner ad at the top of the page, however. It’s activated by just hovering over it and it will not close no matter how many times you click the close button at the top right corner. All in all, a minor inconvenience for a great resource.

My Favorite Gardening Forum

I’ve been a member of the Organic Gardening magazine Gardener to Gardener forum for 7 years and there is not a more helpful group of knowledgeable organic gardeners on the planet, IMHO. Introduce yourself in Club OG, post your questions in Over the Fence or New Gardeners forum and you are likely to get a reply within a couple of hours. But BEFORE you post, try the search feature first. Type your keyword or question in the Find box and you may get pages and pages of information–and a few humorous posts, as well.

Tip of the Week: A Slugfest Smackdown!

banana_slugs*WARNING* Gross pictures of slimy slugs are included. Not recommended for the squeamish.

Just so you know, I am not a violent person. I’m all about live and let live–except when it comes to slugs.

Before I jump into my sure-fire organic controls for slugs, a quick qualifier: My gardening experience is limited mostly to the Midwest zones 4-5. Although I woke up one morning to find a banana slug the size of, well, a frickin’ banana! sliming its way up the side of my tent while camping in Northern California, my gardening experience with slugs is limited to the smaller, snot-colored varieties–like the ones that destroyed three entire plantings of marigolds in my garden patch one spring.

Slugs thrive in cool, moist environments and love feasting on stuff like lettuce, ripe strawberries and marigolds. I had actually never had a problem with slugs until that fateful spring two seasons ago.

I planted marigolds and mulched my tomatoes two weeks earlier than I normally do (mid-May, instead of waiting until after Memorial Day weekend). And I wound up paying the price in marigolds.

But I learned two valuable lessons that year, as well: (1) Wait until the soil has warmed up sufficiently before mulching and (2) don’t plant the 8-pack flats of marigolds before Memorial Day; they don’t stand a chance against those voraciously slimy eaters.

I tried the following traditional organic methods for slug abatement:


  • Beer traps. I used wide-mouthed jar lids to set the traps and was careful to make sure the lips were at least 1/3 inch above ground so that once the slimy creatures joined the  beer fest, they couldn’t get back out. I don’t drink, so I didn’t want to waste money on some fancy beer; if I remember correctly a 40 oz bottle of Old Style was the cheapest I could find without springing for an entire 6-pack. I’ve read you can also mix water, sugar and yeast for the same slug-slurping effect. Haven’t tried it, myself. The beer was good bait. The traps caught quite a few slugs–but did not prevent them from continuing to eat my poor marigolds!
  • Copper. I read in one of my organic gardening books that placing bands of copper around the base of young plants would act as a deterrent for slugs. So I went to Home Depot and found a small roll of copper something or other that was about a ½ inch wide. For the life of me I cannot remember what it’s supposed to be used for; I think I found it in the plumbing section. I diligently placed little copper collars around the young broccoli and cabbage plants–and around my second planting of marigolds. Broccoli and cabbage did fine; the marigolds continued to get devoured.

Slug Magic Did the Trick
At my wit’s end–and on my third planting of marigolds, which I plant every year as a companion to tomatoes because they repel tomato hornworms (those hard-to-spot giant green caterpillars that feast on the underside of tomato plant leaves) and aphids–on the advice of an organic gardening friend, I bought a bottle of Slug Magic pellets. Ya’ just sprinkle them around the base of the plants, the slugs ingest them, and over the course of 3-6 days puff up and die. Works like a charm. The pellets are considered organic because they are a biological control, do not harm other beneficial bugs or animals, and are biodegradable.

An Ounce of Prevention…
I still swear by waiting until the soil has warmed up before mulching and not planting too early. When I do that, I have no problem with slugs. But if you must, iron phosphate, the slug-destroying ingredient in Slug Magic, is a sure-fire winner; and it truly does work like magic! Amazon carries it if you want to order online. Otherwise, you can find it at most gardening centers that carry organic products.

NEXT WEEK: Tip of the Week
For the Love of Strawberries
Simple Solutions for Boosting Size and Yield!

What Flower Are You?

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