The new philosophy in garden management is "do no harm". Since we are all stewards of the earth we have a great opportunity to start using less toxic products for our gardens and ourselves. Here are a few suggestions from the State of California on non-toxic products you that can use in your garden.

What's the secret to a really healthy garden? A coffee cup! Take a cup of coffee or tea into the garden every day and walk around. You're likely to catch things before they become a problem.

Weeds Winter is the active weed season. Mulch to suppress weeds. A good recommendation is Landscape fabric; it breathes and is an excellent weed inhibitor. Black plastic is not recommended.

  • Do not use herbicides in the garden if you want birds in the garden or have small children or pets.
  • Pre-emergent herbicides only kill what is coming up. If you need to use a pre-emergent, look for one with corn gluten as an ingredient. There is one on the market called 'Weed Prevention Plus'.
  • If you need a strong herbicide, RoundUp dissipates in 4 hours and is less harmful than other commercial herbicides.
  • Snails and Slugs Sluggo (Iron Phosphate) is one of the best products to use because it is not harmful to pets or children. Another good one is WorryFree Slug and Snail. Both can be found at Orchard Supply. Corey's in the flake version is also recommended. If you have children or pets, do not use Corey's pellet form.

    Ants and Aphids Aphids are best washed off with a strong spray of water. Run your fingers gently over Aphid-covered buds as you wash down the plant. Aphids can be a nasty problem but they usually only last for a few weeks in the spring. You can also try Rose Defense by Green Light and Safer Rose and Flower Insect Killer. Aphids are also a favorite food of Birds! So if you want birds, leave a few Aphids.

    For Ants, use Orange Guard. It can be safely used in the house and the garden. Orchard Supply carries it. Never use Raid in the house, as it is very toxic.

    Sooty Mold Wash off with insecticide soap. Don't use your liquid detergent under the sink. It is full of additives and perfumes.

    Roses For best results, buy roses that do well in our area and are deemed disease resistant. Rose Defense by Green Light is a good all-purpose product for roses. It will handle fungus, rust, mildew, black spot, and aphids. Rose Defense contains Neem oil. This comes from the Neem tree and is an organic ingredient. The State recommends that you stay away from all other rose products if possible because they are so harmful to humans. Safer garden products are also a good nontoxic solution. Safer also has products that tackle aphids, mildew and blackspot.

    Yellow Jackets The best solution is Yellow Jacket traps. When fighting an insect invasion, use insect specific insecticides. BT is a product for caterpillars or budworms that get your Geraniums and Petunias. You can also use Safer 'Caterpillar Killer'. Be careful of using too many insecticides because eating the poisoned bugs can harm beneficial insects and birds. A recommended insecticide soap is Safer's Insecticide Soap (Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids). Be sure to have separate mixing utensils for garden chemicals and the kitchen. For a healthy garden, let the birds and beneficial bugs come and take care of the 'Bad Bugs.

    Thirps Cut off the infected branches and water well. Thrips can come from the soil. Use Ultra Fine Oil (Horticulture Oil) year round on infected plants. Horticulture oils are good for pests that have hard bodies. Insecticide soaps are best with pests that have soft bodies.

    House Plants For White fly and flying Gnats, use yellow sticky pest strips or the vacuum!

    Squirrels and Raccoons Use Grant's Repellent.

    Fruit Trees To discourage birds from eating your fruit, use red foil strips tied to the trees. Do not use netting to cover trees. Birds can get caught and trapped. Green Light Fruit and Vegetable Spray is safe for your garden.