A garden isn’t just a hobby: when done right, it can save you tons on produce costs and make your meals more sustainable. But when a lot of us start to plan our gardens, it can get a little wary, especially if your thumb is less than green.
“Some people think that gardening is hard and that keeps them from doing it,” Nicole Freshly, the head gardener at Minam River Lodge says.
The lodge sits eight miles from any road, so farm-to-table meals aren’t just a special feature, they’re an essential. After gardening all over the world through WWOOF, an organic farm work-trade program, Freshly has some tried-and-true tricks to preventing pests, dry soil, and other common problems in any natural garden.
Assess Your Space and Level of Involvement
Freshley meets a number of lodge guests who don’t think they have the space or can focus on a garden enough to make it worthwhile.
“Even growing things like kale and lettuce can last you all season,” Freshly notes. “They’re really simple to grow and can be grown in shade. If you have pots or a smaller garden that doesn’t get much sun, there’s probably something that you can grow.”
Pests Come From Stress… But You Can Prevent Them
Freshley has a number of techniques to lower the risks of pests. Her first approach is to “give the plants everything good that I can.” She adds copious amounts of compost created from the lodge’s kitchen scraps and makes sure plants are watered just the right amount throughout the summer, so they don’t bolt or attract more bugs.
Gardeners can also use natural defenses to stop pest invasions. Interplant other plants between aphid-favorite brassicas (think kale, cabbages and broccoli) to prevent a bug buffet.
Freshly releases beneficial insects into the garden at the beginning of the season, but it’s also important to get acquainted with what naturally-occurring pests can keep your precious plants safe.
“A lot of people aren’t [familiar with what ladybug larvae look like], Freshly said. It’s easy to see it in the garden and people want to squash it immediately.”
When In Doubt, Use Row Covers
An easy tool to protect your beds is garden fabric or row cover. Use a summer-weight cover to protect from pests or prop it up on hoops to create shade and prevent plants from bolting. For areas with early frost, use a thicker material. Just remember, if you have vegetables that need to be pollinated, like squash, beans or strawberries, make sure to lift the covers during the day, so the birds and the bees can do their work.
Follow Nicole on Instagram at @RoamingRoller