Sunday, March 4, 2012
Gardening on the cheap
As I thumb through garden product catalogs, I realize how easy it is to grow the proverbial $64 tomato. I can buy container garden pot/watering systems for $100 to grow a (that's ONE) tomato plant, expensive cages and ladders for eggplants and cucumbers, pricey edging and corners for raised beds. I can buy expensive seed (which might be worth it) or have pricey annual seedlings mailed to my home.
But I am a cheap gardener. My garden might look like heck, because I re-use, recycle and re-purpose. Martha Stewart does not garden here (nor does she live in my house). I reuse chicken wire and posts from year to year for pea trellises and milk jugs to mix organic fertilizer. I rake pine straw from my front yard to bring to the back to mulch my strawberries. Plastic sheeting from furniture purchases (mine or others) is rescued and reused as row tunnel covers.
So what the heck is that ugly thing in the photo at the top? Instead of buying coddling moth traps for my apple tree each year, a few years ago I purchased three plastic apples at a discount craft store, drilled a hole in them, inserted a recycled florists wire, coated them in tangle trap and hung them on my tree. The next year, I cleaned them off, painted them red and re-coated them. This is pretty effective at catching coddling moths that bore tunnels through your apples. I do purchase coddling moth pheromone each year (when the garden catalog I favor has a timely sale) that I will attach to the traps. This increases the efficiency of the traps at catching the moths, but I do not need to purchase new traps each year. I have heard of other similar solutions: using red rubber balls, and old, worn billiard balls with tangle trap and hanging those.
[To avoid giving the impression that hanging red sticky traps is all you need to do to get fruit here is a list of what I did this year already and what I will need to do to get good organic fruit: First, we pruned for maybe 15 hours, then sprayed the trees with dormant oil to smother bugs. After petal drop and around three more times during the season, I will need to spray with an organic biofungicide, then with BTK shortly after flowering (kills caterpillars and fruit worms), the start regularly applying Surround (clay that deters bugs). Oh, and we will need to thin the fruits, that is, take off at least 1 of every 10 little peaches, apples and pears (too many fruits on the tree means each fruit will be small, stresses the tree, invites disease, etc). It is a lot of work, but I like it, when I have time!].
Happy (inexpensive) gardening!