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Upper Midwest Gardening: Safe Gardening Solutions

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Cures for an ailing garden can sometimes be found in your own home. Rebecca Kolls shares her favorite kitchen cupboard remedies for common garden problems.

Healthy and attractive sustainable garden

"Give back to the earth" are wise words from my grandfather, who passed his passion for sustainability to me. I might not have weed-free, perfect gardens, but they are safe for my kids, my pets, and the environment. Here are a few of my favorite kitchen-cupboard remedies for the garden

powdery mildew

Tip 1: Prevent white powdery mildew
If your plants or veggies look like they were dusted with powdered sugar, it's probably white powdery mildew. It thrives when the humidity rises during the day and temps fall at night - or from overcrowded plants and poor air circulation. To prevent it from spreading, carefully remove all infected leaves. Pick up and dispose of those that have fallen (do not compost). Then follow up with this solution:

2-1/2 tablespoons horticultural oil
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 gallon water
Mix all the ingredients. Spray the solution on foliage, top and bottom, every 14 days or after heavy rain.

Sugar water remedy for transplanting shock

Tip 2: Transplant Shock Control
To making transplanting trees and shrubs less stressful, use this sugar-water recipe:

1-1/2 cups table sugar
1 gallon water
Mix together. Water a newly planted tree or shrub with a half-gallon of sugar water once a week for four weeks.

newspaper weed control

Tip 3: Weeds Making Headlines
Extra, Extra! Read all about it! Newspaper tackling weed control in the garden! Yup, it's that easy. Layers of newspaper make an excellent weed barrier that's easy to cut through - and you can eventually till it back into the soil (unlike synthetic weed-control fabrics).

Simply lay four sheets of paper over an area. Wet paper and cover with mulch. The paper will keep weed seeds from germinating. (Persnickety perennial weeds might have to be pulled.)

aphids on flowerbud

Tip 4: Scrubbing Bubbles Critter Control
Wash away aphids and spider mites with Insecticidal soap. Mix 1/3 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid (do not use formulas with antibacterial chemicals) into 1 gallon of water. Spray the soap solution directly on pests (spraying foliage without pests does not work as a preventative).

compost bin

Tip 5: Real Food for Gardens
Feed your soil with nature's gold - compost! I never garden without a compost pile nearby. I have a tumbler, which is great for green organic matter that breaks down quickly (grass clippings, young weeds, and pine needles). And I have a 2-bin system for the big stuff. To speed decomposition, interchange layers of green and brown materials, then top off with dirt. If rain isn't consistent, sprinkle the pile to keep it slightly moist. Turn once a week, and in no time the wheel of life will turn waste into food for your garden.


See more Midwest gardening articles.