Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How Strange Is This?

It is just my serious garden group meeting and I mean serious!  Our workshop this day was on organic gardening with ammonia, yogurt, vinegar and molasses.  I don't think I could possibly fit in everything in just this one blog, but you will get the idea of where this is going.

The maple that overlooks my garden from my neighbor's home

Our presenter was a graduate of Ornamental Horticulture at a big ten university, so the credentials were there.  I was all ready to listen and find out how to get rid of my rose midges.  So I asked, how do I get rid of the rose midge?  Our presenter said he had never heard of this (although it is all over the internet) but that all insects will disappear if we use a formula to help the plant repel all infestations.  Pesticides did not appear until after WWII and before that just about everything had an organic solution.  I guess they just didn't know what to do with all of those leftover chemicals!

This is my daughter-in-law's container that we put together with the bronze sweet potato vine left over from the summer with Creeping Jenny, mums, cabbages, grasses, and willow.

The consensus is that if the plants are healthy they will not support disease.  It sounds feasible so I was totally focused on listening to these remedies that were in existence before I was born. 

2 ounces of Blackstrap Molasses
2 ounces of Cider Vinegar
2 ounces of Ammonia (non-sudsing)

Mix with one gallon of water and do one time each week.  Start this recipe when the plants have been in the ground about 5 to  6 weeks.  Do not use on spinach, lettuce or swiss chard.

He said this is what would cure my rose midges and to use it this fall so that it is in the ground before frost.

Stop using Killer Chemicals he said.  Plants don't have stomachs, so the digestion has to happen in the soil.

Liquid weed killers are better than than dry because they are absorbed in the leaf and stay out of the soil.  Dry killer chemicals get into the soil and do a lot of damage. Spot weeding is his recommendation.  He is a big proponent of gypsum and milorganite,both of which have been around for a long time.

He says grass is a sun plant and don't even attempt to grow it in the shade, choose mulch or shade plants.  I know, you are saying there is "shade grass," but he says it will never do well because all grass wants sun.

He recommends planting trees that are meant for your area, know what your soil has and needs, apply gypsum every year if you have clay soil, mow high, water the lawn for one hour, once per week from mid September to Halloween (remember some of these suggestions are meant for zone 5 which is getting ready to shut down for the winter - warmer climates move the months forward somewhat).

You can check this all out at

There was so much more that I am totally confused at this point in regard to proper fertilizations and insect interventions. As I departed, I asked our hostess if he taught a class anywhere in the area.  She said she would certaily check this out.  I feel I know so little about these organic interventions at this point and I certainly don't want to put any of my plantings in jeopardy.

This is a little Irish Cottage that my son built for his youngest daughter.  It has become a playhouse for the whole family.

I will try this organic intervention on my roses as the chemicals have not worked and they are not setting buds.  I will let you know what happens, although it may not be this year!

It's getting a lot scarier around here!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that recipe, Eileen. I agree with the no chemicals, and understand that they came into being as a by product from making gasoline and plastics. Now gardeners think they are a must have, thanks to the advertising by large firms. Oops, sorry for the soapbox! Your daughter's decor and that container planting are stupendous! :-)

Lisa ~Suburban Retreat~ said...

Thanks for sharing all that information. The most I've ever used on any of my gardens is a homemade insecticidal soap. I have never had any problems beyond that. Your daughter's container is stunning and I love the playhouse your son has built. Have a great day!

Karen said...

Eileen, great information and a recipe to keep. I agree with fairegarden, many products are made to make money and foisted on the unsuspecting public as 'must haves' (even some medications)when in reality they are much more harmful than good. Scary.

Love the container and the playhouse, how beautiful!

Cat ~ The Whimsical Gardener said...

I have turned away from chemicals in the last couple of years and my yard has flourished. I see so much more wildlife in the yard than ever before...anoles, texas spiny lizards, butterflies, dragon flies, lady bugs, praying mantis', the list just goes on and on! Did he give you any idea how much of the solution to apply?

~fer said...

Thanks for the recipe, I agree on avoiding the chemicals.
also, That maple looks great

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Frances, I am going to give this a try. I was so disappointed in my roses this year. They couldn't seem to fight off the insects.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Lisa,

I have used a systemic chemical on my roses. It didn't seem to work this year.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Karen, I am going to try the recipe on my roses. He said I could do this before frost but I won't see the results until spring.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Cat,

He did not say exactly how much to put on each plant, but I am thinking just a normal watering around the roots.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks for visiting fer,

I am going to try this, certainlya lot cheaper than all of those chemicals.


Anonymous said...

Dear Eileen, I have found all of this most interesting as I try, as you do, to find 'organic' ways of gardening wherever possible. I shall certainly pass on these tips to J, my gardener/ handyman, since, as you say, these should work and be better and less expensive than chemical methods of control.

i love the play house! How lucky the child [ or adult] that can play there

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Edith,

It is such a small amount in a gallon of water, it will be a miracle if it works. He must have crediblity because he was hired to do the presentation by the host who owns a landscaping company. I'll let you know how it turns out.


Shirley said...

This formulation sounds like it's worth a try. Remember to mix in a well-ventilated area though, since ammonia is in the mix.

Diana LaMarre said...

Interesting. I will be eagerly awaiting next year to see if works for you.

Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

I am not a big fan of using chemicals and so I will be anxious to here how these remedies work out for you. It must be great fun to be part of this garden group. The lunch in your earlier post looks yummy!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Shirley, I do not like the smell of ammonia, but this is such a small amount I hope it will not be a problem.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Zoey, I know it sounds kinky, but it is worth a try on the non-blooming bushes.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

I know Jennifer, I am waiting also to see the results.


meemsnyc said...

That fall container is absolutely gorgeous. And the cottage is adorable. It's so cute.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks meemsync,


CanadianGardenJoy said...

Eileen girl I understand how it can be so overwhelming and confusing .. I want my garden to be chemical free as well .. Kingston has strict bylaws now and the lawn service we use does not apply chemicals like that any more which is great.
There are so many home made solutions to use .. this year I was totally impressed with the Epsom Salts application for my roses .. you should try it too ! you may be already ? it is totally amazing : )
I love love love the Irish Cottage playhouse it is BEAUTIFUL !!
Your son is very talented : )

Indoor Fountains said...

The maple tree is magnificent!!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thank you Joy, my son will be glad you liked his cottage. Interesting you mentioned Epsom Salt, because one of the attendees mentioned that she used Epsom Salts on her roses and he advised us not to use it in our specific area. He said we had plenty of this in our soil.

Although he also said that just 20 miles away in Chicago, they needed it. Again, he stressed that we should all have a soil test. I have never had one but maybe I should do this.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Indoor Fountains, that's called borrowing a view.


allanbecker-gardenguru said...

Epsom salts are beneficial to roses only if they need it. They will uptake whatever is missing from their diet, but no more. Since, I don't know if my roses need it or not, I apply it anyway. It can't hurt.

I have used liquid systemic weed killer such as glysophate with great success.

Gypsum was recommended as a soil lightener in my area. I wonder if it is used for that same reason where you garden.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Allan, you are correct. He said not to use the Epsom Salt where Ilive, but sixteen miles away in Chicago, he said it is necessary.

I use a systemic also, but this summer it didn't seem to work. He said the gypsum was to loosen up our clay soil.