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Must-See Gardens Across the US: The Midwest

Make sure to check out Part 1 (The Southeast) Part 2 (The Northeast) of this 5-part series at the bottom of this article.

 Instead of pulling over to see the world’s 5th most genuine alien space ship during your vacation, try something a little more worthwhile. This could be your only vacation of the year, so “fill your eyes with wonder” as the travel bloggers say and visit some unforgettable places. All over the U.S., there are publicly and privately funded, breathtaking gardens that can redefine your definition of horticulture. From pristine botanical memorials to fascinating plant sculptures, you will find your imagination running wild with your own backyard botanical ideas.

Plus, these gardens are prime for great pictures that are guaranteed to make your Instagram pop and may even inspire you to start a succulent garden, raised garden, its close relative—square foot garden, or ‘living’ sculpture garden of your own! So, if you are journeying through the northeastern U.S., carve out some time to visit one or more of these amazing garden experiences.

South Dakota

MrCrory Gardens – Brookings, South Dakota

Featuring over 70 acres of gardens, displays, an arboretum, and activities, the McCrory Gardens is a must-do if you are in South Dakota. They are operated and maintained by South Dakota State University and offer guests a chance to discover beautiful gardens, trees, and dazzling displays. Along with rose gardens, hummingbird gardens, and a maze, they also feature a raised bed sensory garden. It appeals to all five senses, making it a wonderful garden for kids and those exploring sensory integration.

Their President’s Garden is a favorite spot for weddings, meetings, and other events, overlooking their many flora offerings. Recently, they developed an app that helps guests traverse the park while further educating them on the plant-life.

South Dakota MrCrory Gardens

Iowa

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden – Des Moines, Iowa

This horticultural wonder is progressive, beautiful, and dedicated to education and inspiration. The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden features art and sculptures, rose and water gardens, and a huge conservatory. Standing at 80 feet tall and 150 feet wide, the conservatory is made of Plexiglas and aluminum that houses a tropical atmosphere.

They recently had a first, for all of Iowa at these gardens – flowering an Amorphophallus titanium. Better known as a corpse flower, it emits a rotten stench when it blooms... which surprisingly attracts people instead of turning them away... Most likely due to its rarity. In addition, the garden plays host to exhibits, concerts, fundraisers, weddings, meetings, and learning workshops.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Iowa

Michigan

Matthaei Botanical Gardens – University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Eleven outdoor garden spaces featuring bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials, and more blooming seasonally from spring to first frost. Take a walk along nearly three miles of trails and natural areas. Or visit the year-round indoor conservatory filled with plants from around the world. Begin your exploration at the visitor center, where you’ll find visitor guides, restrooms, water and snacks and the Garden Store. 

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Illinois

Chicago Botanic Garden – Glencoe, Illinois

Over 40 years old and an example of a successful private-public partnership, the Chicago Botanic Garden offers a variety of horticultural experiences and learning opportunities to its visitors. They can enjoy 27 gardens and 4 natural areas including: a well-known Bonsai garden, a model railroad, greenhouses, aquatic gardens, a science center, and waterfall gardens. For visitors who are hungry for more information, they can use a free mobile app that features and interactive map and walking tours of the botanic gardens.

For visitors with an even larger appetite for education, the Chicago Botanic Garden offers adult workshops, school programs, graduate internships, and a specialized horticultural therapy program. If you’re just a tourist trying to enjoy the scenery, they have thought of you too. Flower shows are a frequent occurrence, and dining options are available as well.

Chicago Botanic Garden

Ohio

Cleveland Botanical Garden – Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Botanical Garden transports guests to exotic places thanks to its 10 acres of gardens and 18,000-square-foot Glasshouse. Founded in 1930, this garden is visited by 150,000 guests annually who look forward to its unique offerings. Along with Children's, Japanese, Rose and Herb gardens, guests can enjoy one of the extra opportunities to celebrate seasons such as Orchid Mania, the Annual Egg Hunt, Gourmets in the Garden, RIPE!, and more.

The Glasshouse is comprised of 3,400 pieces of glass, 738,000 pounds of steels, and 20 tons of soil—an impressive structure. Inside, it houses the Costa Rican rainforest and the spiny desert of Madagascar for guests to wonder and behold. Of course the garden also features workshops, classes, and hosts private events.

 Cleveland Botanical Garden

So, if traveling the Midwest U.S. definitely add these amazing stops to your itinerary for some added tranquility and exploration!

Also, if you're traveling to the Southeast or the Northeast, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this 5-part series!

Must-See Gardens Across the US: The Northeast

In Part 1 of our 5-part series, we covered the best gardens to see across the southeast. From the Disney Flower & Garden Festival to The Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Instead of pulling over to see the world’s 4th most complete Bigfoot footprint, try something a little more worthwhile. This could be your only vacation of the year, so “fill your eyes with wonder” (as the travel bloggers say) and visit some unforgettable places! All over the U.S., there are publicly and privately funded, breathtaking gardens that can redefine your definition of horticulture. From pristine botanical memorials to fascinating plant sculptures, you will find your imagination running wild with your own backyard botanical ideas.

Plus, these gardens are prime for great pictures that are guaranteed to make your Instagram pop and may even inspire you to start a succulent garden, fruit garden, square foot garden, or ‘living’ sculpture garden of your own! So, if you are journeying through the northeastern U.S., carve out time in some of our nation’s most historic states to visit one or more of these amazing garden experiences!

Maine

Coastal Maine Gardens

Founded by grassroots organization passionate about horticulture and environmental education in Boothbay, Maine, this botanical garden covers 295 acres of tidal shore land. They offer a schedule of educational events, art exhibits, and sculptures that tourists and annual members can appreciate. The gardens also partake in substantial botanical research to propagate unique cultivars in New England.

They are only open from April through October, but visitors will be wowed by the variety of beautiful gardens throughout the compound.

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(Source: http://www.mainegardens.org/garden/gardens-map/)

Asticou Azalea Garden

In Northeast Harbor, Maine, the Asticou Azalea Garden feels both organized and natural. Pathways wind through colorful and aromatic gardens and forests with benches throughout for those who want to rest and enjoy the environment.

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(Source: https://acadiamagic.com/asticou/index.html)

New York

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Along with the standard beautiful horticultural offerings, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden offers educational opportunities for schools, families, children, and adults. Butterfly walks, yoga classes, Medicinal lectures, certificates in horticulture, and internships are only part of the many opportunities they provide.

Their gardens are comprised of a variety of flowers that are seasonally changed, and the site blog offers frequent insights into their flora and fauna.

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(Source: https://www.nycgo.com/museums-galleries/brooklyn-botanic-garden)

New York Botanical Garden

Similar to its cousin in Brooklyn, the New York Botanical Garden is known for offering a myriad of classes, horticultural opportunities, special collections, and educational experiences. Besides those, the gardens themselves are breathtaking.

Visitors can enjoy the Azalea, Daylilies, Native Plant, Perennial, Water Lilies and Lotus gardens as well as some fun musical weekends. They do provide membership opportunities for those who can’t get enough of this beautiful botanical garden.

GIM Best Gardens New York Botanical_1
(Source: https://www.nybg.org/garden/native-plant-garden/)

Pennsylvania

Phipps Conservatory

Located in Pittsburgh, this conservatory is dedicated to researching sustainable landscapes, offer seasonal children camps, school tours, and how-to adult gardening classes. Additionally, they are known for being a picturesque location for weddings or corporate events.

They offer year-round and seasonal experiences including butterfly forests, interactive soundscapes, their green power drive, and a fascinating exhibit called, “Tropical Forest Cuba”. The Phipps Conservatory is dedicated to innovation and can’t be missed.

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(Source: https://www.phipps.conservatory.org/green-innovation/at-phipps/center-for-sustainable-landscapes-greenest-building-museum-garden-in-the-world)

Longwood Gardens

One of the most diverse garden experiences, the Longwood gardens offer more than beautiful flora. Visitors can look forward to dining options, a beer garden, musical performances, and a spectacular illuminated fountain show set in the Main Fountain Garden.

They also offer educational opportunities for those interested in horticulture and art. For those just visiting, there are greenhouses, a breathtaking waterlily display, and a manicured Italian water garden.

 GIM Best Gardens Penn Longwood Gardens_1
(Source: https://www.deviantart.com/dseomn/art/Longwood-Gardens-Water-Garden-303302380)

Washington, DC

U.S. National Arboretum

Established in 1972 by Congress, this 446-acre property is run by the US Department of Agriculture’s Research Service. Their mission is to “enhance the economic, environmental, and aesthetic value of ornamental and landscape plants through long-term, multi-disciplinary research, conservation of genetic resources, and interpretative gardens and exhibits.”

Boasting over seven flora collections in addition to a Bonsai museum and the national capitol columns, people passionate about America will love the Arboretum.

GIM Best Gardens DC National Arboretum_2_1
(Source: https://www.fona.org/about-the-arboretum/)

So, if travelling the northeast U.S. add these amazing stops to your itinerary for some tranquility and exploration.

Which gardens do you want to see and which have you been to? Do you prefer the gardens of the southeast featured in part 1 of our series? Tell us in the comments below!
Also, keep your eyes open for part 3 of this 5-part series as we explore the rest of the must-see gardens across the U.S.!

Prepping For Fall Gardening

Many first time gardeners may believe that the growing season is done by August but there are plenty of fall crops that you can produce in the cooling temperatures. Fall gardening can produce some of the best fresh produce for your family and is worth the time and energy. Check out these ways to prepare for a successful garden during the fall.

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Harvest Fall Crops

Gardening isn’t over just because summer is. There is still plenty of time for fall crops to mature and produce well through the colder season. Fall is the prime time to harvest leafy greens and squash like pumpkins, zucchini, yellow and butternut squash. It is also very possible that melons will still be producing at this time including watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. If you have certain plants in your garden that are still going strong by September continue to care for them until they choose to be done. You could easily get a bumper crop depending on the weather and your location as well.

Re-Use Old Beds

You will most likely have a few garden beds that will be done producing by the time fall arrives. Clear away these plants and any dead brush in order to use that bed for some fall planting. Produce like lettuce, radishes, kale, and broccoli can easily be grown in just a few short weeks throughout the fall. Consider staggering lettuce planting to give you fresh garden lettuce up until the first frost in your area. If you live in a southern part of the country that sees mild winter temperatures experiment with planting varieties that take longer to germinate to see how they do over the winter.

Plant for Spring

There are many different plants that you can put into the ground during the fall in order to have them ready for spring. Garlic is a great example that needs to be planted in the fall in order to mature and grow for an early summer harvest. Other examples include bulbs in a flowerbed or around the house for those first glimpses of spring once the ground thaws next year. Get out your shovel and get your hands dirty doing some fall planting that you will be proud of come early next year.

Add Trees and Shrubs

Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs around your garden and in your yard. Trees do best when planted in the fall as they can take root during the cooling temperatures and then take a long nap through the winter. Make sure to adequately water any new trees in order to make sure that they establish well. Consider planting a windbreak off to the side of your garden in order to provide important wind coverage for young plants in your garden.

Add Mulch

With the abundance of falling leaves, adding dead leaves to your garden beds is a great way to mulch and create nutrients. Clear off garden beds that you won’t be using for fall planting and spread a layer of mulch overall. The leaves will help to insulate the soil during the winter and will break down to create added nutrients to the soil. You can also use excess grass clippings from your fall lawn care routine just the same to add nutrients to your flowerbed. This will make the garden bed rich and ready for spring planting once winter subsides.

Fall is a great time to get in some extra planting as well as harvest those summer varieties that needed a little bit more time in the garden. Consider reusing summer beds for easy fall planting as well as mulch those that you won’t be using. Adding trees and shrubs to the garden is another fall gardening activity that will pay off as well as planting bulbs for early spring color. Consider all of these tips when preparing for fall gardening this year.

Seed Saving Made Easy

Saving seeds is an integral part of sustainable gardening. It’s also a great way to save money and ensure that you’re growing what you think you’re growing and not some genetically-modified version. Learning the finer points of seed saving is easy, once you understand a few basics of how seeds are formed.

Seed Basics

Depending on the plant, its seeds are formed and mature in different ways. Some seeds are formed on the inside of fruit like squash while others are formed in the flowers of a plant like carrots and broccoli. To a botanist, a “fruit” is the structure that bears the seeds of a plant. It is formed in the plant's flower. Remember, squash form from the flower of the plant. In nature, seeds are at the heart of reproduction which serves as a plant’s entire focus. In essence, a plant’s job is to propagate its species.

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Lost? No worries! All you need to know is that once you plant a seed, it germinates into a beautiful seedling that captures the sunlight using the process of photosynthesis and grows into a lush bounty—one you can harvest and consume. 

Harvesting Seeds from Fruits

For seed collection, it’s crucial we know where to look for the seeds we want to save. Examples of seeds found inside the fruit include squash, cucumbers, watermelons, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, legumes, and the like. Seeds harvested from the flower include carrots, broccoli, lettuce, and the like. In a home vegetable garden, it’s interesting to note that in some cases, we’re actually eating the seeds, as is the case with beans. Other times, we’re eating the leaves or roots of the plant, as in lettuce and carrots. And then there are those situations where we’re eating the “stem” of the plant as in celery and potatoes.

Collecting legume seeds is easy. They’re of good size and you can easily pluck them from a mature pod. Allow them to dry and you’re done. The key here is a “mature pod.” If you try to save seeds from a bean or pea pod that hasn’t fully matured, your seeds won’t be viable. A good rule of thumb is to allow them to turn brown and dried on the plant, then collect them for your very own.

Pepper seeds work the same way, though you can remove them from the plant before they turn brown but after they fully ripen. For example, harvest a jalapeno pepper when it turns red, one stage after its familiar green stage of maturity. Next, you slice your pepper in half, scoop out the seeds and set them on a plate layered with a paper towel. Allow them to dry to the point where they are no longer flexible but will break easily; a process that may take a few days. 

tomato_seeds_in_jar_by_sunny_window

Tomatoes are a bit different in that you can save them via the above means, but fermentation produces better results and can reduce seed-borne diseases. To ferment, cut a ripe tomato open and squeeze the pulp, seeds, and juice into a glass container. You may add some water, then close lid and allow the jar to sit undisturbed for about three days. I like a glass container, so I can see the action taking place inside the jar. Seal closed with lid or sealing paper and set by a sunny window. When a white mold begins to form over the seeds, scoop it out and any seeds that go with it.  The seeds left on the bottom of your glass are the ones you want—floating seeds are duds. Drain water from glass through a fine sieve so you don’t lose any of the precious gems, then rinse your seeds with cold water. Like peppers, you’ll now place them on a paper towel and allow to dry completely.

Harvesting Seeds from Flowers

Broccoli, lettuce, and carrot seeds form in the flowers that grow once the plant “bolts,” or turns to flower. You’ll have to allow the flowers to fully mature, drying up on the stem and forming seed pods before you harvest the seeds. Because these seeds are so tiny, you’ll want to take caution when removing the brown blooms, else you lose all your seeds! Carefully cut the flower head off and place in a paper bag. Shake to separate the seeds from blooms, then slowly empty them out onto a white piece of paper. Working on a tray will help reduce loss to the “scatter” effect.

broccoli_seed_pod

Caveat: harvesting carrot, beet and onion seeds takes longer because they are biennials and will not produce seed until their second year. Otherwise, you’ll follow the same process.

But what about potatoes? Have you ever purchased potato seeds from a store? I haven’t. Potatoes produce flowers and produce berries (with seeds inside them), but most home gardeners will purchase the potato “seeds,” which are actually potatoes, and cut them into two-inch pieces. Each piece should contain an “eye” from which a sprout will grow and form a new potato plant. 

sweet_potato_slips_have_sprouted

Sweet potatoes differ in that they are usually rooted in water like cuttings, then planted in the garden once roots and leaves emerge.

Heirloom versus Hybrid

An important distinction when it comes to saving seeds is heirloom vs. hybrid. Heirlooms are considered plants in their natural state, saved for their desirable characteristics, then passed on from generation to generation with no scientific meddling involved. Because they are open-pollinated, cross-pollination can occur.

Billy Bob red-okra

Hybrids are intentionally crossed between varieties to produce high yielding, disease and/or pest resistant plants. When it comes to seed-saving, the key difference is their offspring. For example, collecting seeds from a hybrid tomato plant harvest will not reproduce the original fruit which forces the gardener to continually purchase new seeds to replicate original results. Heirloom varieties will remain more consistent with the original plant, allowing for sustainable gardening practices.

Whichever seeds you’re saving, be sure to label them by variety and date harvested. Store seeds in an airtight container in a cool place—refrigerators work well—and they’ll remain viable for years to come. Happy gardening!


Award-winning author and blogger D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children. It was volunteering in her children’s Montessori school garden that gave rise to her new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, stories bursting with the real-life experiences of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside and get digging.

Hoya Flowers Especially For You

Hoya is in the family of the milkweed that is a famous food of the monarch butterfly caterpillars. They belong to the same family Apocynaceae. Hoyas are normally growing wildly in tropical forests of Southeast Asia, Asia, and Papua New Guinea. It got famous only lately from a group of hobbyist collectors from temperate countries. Today they are found mostly in collector gardens of temperate countries like Europe, USA, Canada, and Australia. The Philippines alone has, more or less, 150 hoya species and more waiting to be named. Countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Borneo also have their shares pursued much by collectors and hobbyists.

I will be presenting here some Philippine Hoya species that you will surely love to have in your own gardens. I just warn you, hoya collection is addictive and it is also contagious. Do not blame me later that I did not warn you!

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Flower and Plant Description

Hoyas are normally epiphytes, or plants growing on trunks and branches of trees. There are also a few called lithophytic hoyas that thrive on rocks. Most hoyas are vines and a few species are erect and bushy, and have milky sap just like the milkweed. Moreover, even without the flowers yet, the leaves alone are already aesthetically beautiful. In the wild they get nutrients from decomposing organic debris in their habitat. So, in domestic and garden cultivation they are provided with whatever nutrients and conditions they need to simulate the original habitat they are found in. Successful cold country growers make provisions like rooms with controlled temperatures, humidity, aerators, and artificial lights to grow them. But here in the tropics they are growing in our open gardens with our normal environmental conditions.

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Hoya flowers are lumped in circular bunches of small flowers technically called umbels. The petal-like structures are corolla and the star-shaped parts at the center are corona. Nectar normally oozes out from the bottom of those coronas, and some species become very colorful due to the nectar. Every species also has a distinctive scent, from slightly sweet to extremely fragrant, that probably entices special insect pollinators. However, no studies have yet been done on this aspect. Another special characteristic of hoya is its flower opening later in the afternoon until early evening, concomitant with simultaneous scent emission. Its scent is so powerful that you immediately know a hoya is blooming in your garden as soon as it opens.

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Present Industry System

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Most of the older identified hoya species were directly collected from the wild decades ago by individual private collectors from temperate countries. Nurseries in those countries supply hobbyists in their areas. A system of hoya industry and export market is also thriving well in Thailand. More and more nurseries are being developed, and most of the international hoya collectors go there to get newly collected species. On the other hand, Thai growers come here, to the Philippines, to collect more species from small collectors and growers. Hoya industry here in the country is not yet as good as other country counterparts, and sometimes getting specimen locally is not anymore possible. We realized its importance only just very recently, when existence in the wild is already dwindling or sometimes gone! Our only option is to source them from foreign collectors who have previously collected them. It is just sad that we do not have a developed hoya export market here in the country, where plenty of the species come from.

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Andrea B. Agillon, PhD,  is a Horticulturist/Plant Physiologist who has almost a hundred hoya species among her other collections of ornamentals like hippeastrum and crinum.

The Real Scoop on Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting is a composting process that uses earthworms, usually red wrigglers, and a mixture of decomposing food waste and paper bedding materials to produce vermicast—a fancy word for worm poop—and one of a plant’s favorite foods! It’s an amazing form of organic fertilizer that will produce wonderful results in your garden. 

Why Vermicomposting Is Right for Your Garden

Vermicompost is a water-soluble, nutrient-filled, bacteria-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner for your garden. I like to think of it as “black gold” because it’s extremely valuable in promoting healthy plant growth. The process is all-natural and works in tandem with Mother Nature, only in a controlled environment. Controlled, as in you control the critters. Earthworms run wild in nature and tend to come and go as they please. Wouldn’t it be great if you could maintain them as a captive audience, producing continuous and copious amounts of organic fertilizer free of charge? Sign me up!

rsz_mel_gorgeous_worms

Worm Bins Are a Super Way to Help the Environment

Think of this as the ultimate in recycling for those fruits and vegetables you’re growing and consuming but can’t quite finish. Flowers and leaves can be included in the mix, even newspaper and similar materials you might be using around your home. Most anything you throw into a compost pile you can instead, feed to your earthworms. They’ll gobble it up and poop up a storm, leaving you piles of luscious vermicast.

As nature intended, this poop will be returned to the earth, infusing your plants with amazing energy and superb nutrients. You can purchase a specially-made worm bin from a supplier or build your own by recycling a couple of old plastic storage tubs.

Now I’ll confess, I’ve had my issues with vermicomposting. While I’d love to be “up to my elbows” in fabulous vermicast, scooping piles of the black gold for my garden use, I ended up cleaning out my bin due to failure.

rsz_mel_homemade_worm_bin

Where did I go wrong? I mean, I purchased a specially-made worm bin from my local seed store. I read the directions, set up the bin, added shredded newspaper for the bedding material, a scoop of dirt, and leftover scraps from the kitchen. Finally, I plopped in a healthy heaping of red wrigglers. The concept was simple. Continually add scraps to the bin whereby the worms would migrate up leaving a trail of poop below them as they climbed in search of fresh food. My job was to harvest the poop by scooping it out, and into the garden.

As a dutiful caregiver, I fed my worms, watered their bedding, and generally fussed over the gorgeous creatures all the while knowing that if I treated them well, they'd treat me well and poop up a storm! 

Tips for Successful Vermicomposting

Problem number one. After a few weeks, I found my worms swimming in the bottom bin full of their own "you-know-what" rather than migrating upward as they were supposed to. And my bin was stinky. Definitely not “as advertised” when I bought it.

Reason? Too much moisture. As I was busily adding food scraps, I wasn’t keeping up a proper ratio with shredded paper. Not good. Translated: Worms are like Goldilocks. They need conditions that are not too wet and not too dry, but just right. Adequate ventilation and drainage are also key.

Problem number two. My bin lived in the garage and too often, I found my little wrigglers scattered across the garage floor to the point where my son shrieked in dismay. “Mom, the worms are escaping!” Staring at the mess of stick-dry carcasses strewn about, it seems they didn’t get far. And there was definitely no trail of poop to scoop. Not good.

Reason? The temperature where I live in Florida can grow very warm and earthworms don’t like it too hot or too cold. Remember Goldilocks? They like it “just right” which means a temperature range of 50-80 degrees F. Go figure.

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Problem number three. Flies were circling my bin depositing unspeakable things in my vermicompost. Scratching my head, I peered over the jumble of waste and thought, flies were not part of the bargain.

Reason? We were tossing in whole pieces of food scraps that were too large for the earthworms to consume, giving them time to rot and attract pesky flies. Gnats became a problem, too. Seems for a successful worm bin, you should cut your scraps into smaller pieces before adding them to the bin.

While I had my trials and tribulations during my vermicomposting adventure, I’d still recommend giving it a try. Earthworm castings are amazing for your garden soil and worth any obstacles you run into along the way. We plan to give it another go this fall. How about you? Up for some fun? 


Award-winning author and blogger D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children. It was volunteering in her children’s Montessori school garden that gave rise to her new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, stories bursting with the real-life experiences of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside and get digging.

8 Eco-Friendly DIY Pesticides

Gardening is a great way to raise your own produce, increasing your overall health and saving money at the same time. Unfortunately, many gardeners find themselves having to resort to chemical pesticides to eliminate harmful, destructive pests from their garden plants.

There are alternatives to these cancer-causing chemicals–organic pesticides that you can make right at home. These easy to make pesticides allow you to save money and improve your health while simultaneously protecting the planet.

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1. Salt Spray

Many pests are deterred by salt, including slugs and spider mites. Mix salt (Himalayan pink crystal salt is suggested) with a gallon of warm water and spray onto the garden’s affected areas. Try not to spray directly on the plant when possible, as this can produce a drying effect, but instead on the soil around the garden’s entrance.

2. Orange Citrus Oil

While citrus oil smells appealing to us, it is a deterrent to many common pests, including slugs, cockroaches, and ants. Mix an ounce of orange oil with a gallon of water and a splash of castile soap. It can be sprayed directly on the pests or dabbed on a surface to provide long-lasting benefits.

3. Diatomaceous Earth

This compound works well at repelling all kinds of insects, both inside the house as well as in the garden. This product causes insects to dry out and die but is not poisonous to humans or animals. It works well on its own, as well as when combined with chili pepper or powder. A cup of diatomaceous earth, such as egg shells, mixed with half a gallon of water is all you need. Let it sit overnight once you mix it, then shake well before applying it to the garden.

4. Chrysanthemum Flowers

These flowers can help repel insects on their own, but work especially well when its flowers are dried, ground, and then boiled into a potent brew. These flowers contain pyrethrum, which kills insects by infecting their nervous system and completely immobilizing them. To make a chrysanthemum spray, simply boil the dried leaves in a liter of water for about twenty minutes. Once it has cooled and been sprayed on the garden, it can produce insect-repelling effects for up to two months.

5. Neem Oil

Neem is one of the most famous DIY pesticides, boasting a long history of traditional use. Ancient cultures used neem as an all-natural pest repellent,  its juice is regarded as one of the most potent pesticides. The neem leaf itself is bitter but entirely eco-friendly. To make an easy pesticide, combine half an ounce or organic Neem oil with a half teaspoon of liquid soap and two quarts of warm water. It can be used immediately and will be effective for weeks.

6. Eucalyptus Oil

Many people already have eucalyptus oil kicking around the house, as it is a revered essential oil that provides a wide array of health and wellness benefits. This oil helps to repel flies, as well as stinging insects like wasps. All you need to do is sprinkle a few drops of oil near the areas where the insects tend to frequent. It requires frequent reapplications but can be incredibly effective, especially when used in areas near your house.

7. Garlic Spray

Garlic has an unpleasant aroma to pests and can be mixed with water to create a powerful insecticide. This biodegradable option is effective against whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites, and doesn’t produce the same pungent odor after the spray has dried.

8. Hot Pepper Wax

This natural pesticide keeps away dozens of garden pests, including aphids and whiteflies, as it produces a spicy taste and aroma that repel many species of insects. It also helps protect plants against inclement weather. This pesticide is made from blended cayenne or habanero peppers mixed with two cups of water. It should steep for 24 hours before use, and can also deter mammal pests like squirrels and rabbits.

When considering all-natural, eco-friendly pesticides for your garden, be sure to consider all options before use. Some pesticides may be damaging to certain plants, or impart a distinct flavor upon finished crops. These options do not damage plants or beneficial wildlife and pollinators, making them safe to use in any environment.