Thursday, June 22, 2017


T H E   G U I D E |  N A T U R A L   G A R D E N I N G 
In honour of yesterday's Summer Solstice, a guide on caring for plants naturally & gardening mindfully . . . 

I have always been bemused by how people know whether they have a green thumb. With so many pest control and growth manipulation products out there, who or what truly has the magic touch? Not to mention the factors that are beyond our control, of which many odd ones I have dealt with from bone dry & hell hot desert weather to minimally lit interiors. Once we plant, how do we care for them in their natural habitat and using natural products? 

I used to believe that I had my grandmother's touch, the only person whom I have met that truly seemed to have a green thumb. She revived orchids and had a full bush of fragile flowers she made so vibrant. Her fruit trees bore so much that I would climb on my uncle's shoulders to reach for their high fruits blushed by the sun. I thought I surely should have brushed up some of her touch from touching a leaf or two.

Then I killed a succulent which, apparently, is one of the harder plants to kill. But I also saved an orchid as she did, which is the easiest plant to kill. What gives?

Here are the tools of the trade I have found in answer . . .

                                                   Plant Insect Repellants

Although there is a market of organic plant repellant sprays, you can also use certain plants themselves to repel pests. Below are a few selections that, when planted near your main crops, will not only provide additional bounty but also provide protection. 

B A S I L | This is a great herb to repel mosquitos. Also, when planted alongside its culinary complement tomato, basil can increase both production and flavour. 

C H A M O M I L E | Works well with cruciferous vegetables like cabbage as well as alliums like onions. It enhances the flavour of these plants as well. Its sweet scent attracts beneficial bugs that increase the health of surrounding crops.

D I L L | This is not only one of my favourite herbs to have on hand—I love it paired with roasted Japanese sweet potatoes—but it's also an effective pest repellant.

C A T N I P | A great repellant for squash bugs and aphids, catnip is also a handy herb to steep as a tea for upset stomach.

N A S T U R T I U M S | Edible flowers such as nasturtiums are underrated! Plant these as a companion for cruciferous vegetables and nightshade plants. 

D I A T O M A C E O U S   E A R T H | I sprinkle this in the garden as well as inside the home to repel bugs from ants to spiders. Make sure to get food grade so you can take it internally as well in case of a stomach bug or parasite infection.

N E E M   S P R A Y | This is a generally handy and effective spray to keep insects at bay. Spray on plants once a week or during an infestation.

O N I O N S | Not only are these manageable vegetables but can be planted freely throughout the garden to fend off pests. 

                                                    Plant Food & Fertiliser

C O M P O S T   T E A | This is a great way to recycle, reduce waste, and maintain your garden's health. Here's a useful guide on how to make it.

D R I E D   N E T T L E  |
 I have dried nettle to combat plants with seasonal allergies but also to nourish them by using it as a supplement in the soil. Mix it into your compost for extra nourishment.

P O W D E R E D  K E L P | This seaweed can be used as a repellant for beetles and aphids. Its nutritional profile is also beneficial for plants as well. Sprinkle once a week or during an infestation.

                                                    Companion Planting

Another controversial and slightly complicated yet potentially helpful tool is companion planting. I myself have not experimented very thoroughly with it but there are many gardening books and horticulturalists who advocate it. You can read more about it here and experiment for yourself.

  Tools of the Trade: What to Wear and How to Protect Yourself When Gardening

Let's not forget to protect ourselves as well when we're gardening under the sun. Here are my staples for a day out in the garden . . .

J A O   P A T I O   O I L | A balmy oil to both repel bugs and soothe the skin with jojoba & hemp oils 
W I D E  -  B R I M M E D   H A T | To fend off the sun, burns, skin cancer, and aging stylishly
S U N S C R E E N | This gentle yet effective & affordable sunscreen has been my go-to for years now
A N T I  - B U G   B A L M | A balm to fend off bugs that also smells delightfully summery
I N S E C T   R E P E L L A N T   P E R F U M E | I have heard much about & have my eyes on this new find
H E R B A L   B U G   R E P E L L A N T  S P R A Y | Just a natural take on the good 'ol classic spray