How to Grow a Chemical-Free Garden

How to avoid harming the environment the next time weeds have you tearing out your hair.

By Sacha Zimmerman from For America

A garden is a terrible thing to spray! While no one wants bugs, other critters, or fungi to destroy a perfectly beautiful garden, chemicals aren’t the answer. Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are designed to kill — and they can be lethal to more than plant pests.

Pesticide-free garden A number of pesticides contain carcinogens that in large quantities can cause birth defects, gene mutations, nervous system damage, or liver and kidney damage. Why introduce that kind of toxicity into your own backyard and expose your children and pets?

Harsh garden chemicals kill beneficial organisms as well, including butterflies, ladybugs, and bees, all of which help our gardens grow and stay healthy. More troubling is that garden chemicals can leach into the groundwater, where they can leave a toxic residue that poisons fish, small plants, and waterfowl –not to mention the well water so many rural and suburban homes rely on. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a number of lawn pesticides contain carcinogens that in large quantities can cause birth defects, gene mutations, nervous system damage, or liver and kidney damage. Why introduce that kind of toxicity into your own backyard and expose your children and pets?

The next time weeds have you tearing out your hair, don’t turn to harsh chemicals that will eventually contaminate the environment and poison your garden, groundwater, and family. Many books, websites, and magazines offer tons of tips on how to grow a beautiful garden without toxic chemicals. Get one! You’ll find clever, effective solutions such as these:

1. Tired of yard critters, squirrels, and bunnies munching the tasty plants and grasses in your yard or vegetable garden? Dose your delectables with a large shaker of cayenne pepper.

2. Get rid of any and all standing water in your yard, including birdbaths. Standing water is a breeding ground for all manner of insects and a potential West Nile virus incubator.

3. To get rid of root nematodes and other gnarly vegetable garden pests, plant marigolds in your garden to repel them.

4. Buy lots of ladybugs and watch as aphids and other buggy pests disappear from your yard.

5. Make your own insect repellent. Try adding a pureed garlic clove or a tablespoon of liquid dish detergent to a gallon of water. Then experiment with concentrations until you find one that does the trick.The right mix of natural repellents will be more than sufficient to shoo garden pests away, and you won’t turn your backyard into a toxic wasteland! For more tips, ideas, and homemade solutions that won’t hurt the Earth or your health, check out BeyondPesticides.org.