Try to Eat the Organic Version of Certain Fruits and Veggies
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has identified 12 fruits and vegetables that are most likely to contain pesticides even after being washed, rinsed, or peeled (depending on the typical preparation for that type of produce).
Print the EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides for a list of the "dirty dozen" and "clean 15".
Avoid Toxic Chemicals in Your Yard
Some studies show an association between pesticides and health problems such as cancer, attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder and nervous system disorders and say exposure could weaken immune systems.
If your HOA or local government is planning to spray for noxious weeds in your area and you would prefer to hand dig them yourself instead, print out some "no spray" signs and post around your property. Remember, you will have to pull the weeds yourself!
Worried About Dandelions?
Prevent new ones from coming up by spreading Corn Gluten all over the yard in the spring and fall. This product prevents seeds from germinating, so be sure to avoid areas where you plan to sprout plants from seed.
Bring your own container (like a sandwich sized Tupperware) and stop by the Environmental Health Department (2nd floor City Hall) to pick up a free Corn Gluten sample!
Get rid of existing weeds by digging them up or try making your own weed spray:
1 gallon white vinegar
- 1 pound table salt
- 8 drops dish soap
Heat the vinegar on the stove until the salt dissolves then add the soap. Cool and pour into a spray bottle. Put the bottle on the "stream" setting and spray the center rosette of the weed on hot sunny days. Avoid spraying on the grass.
What About Pests?
Uses for this natural garden pest control are almost universal. Because it has oil and dishwashing liquid in it, it sticks to plants as well as suffocates pests such as scale and mealy bug. Use it to kill ants, aphids, caterpillars, grubs, bugs etc. Be careful to avoid killing beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and bees. Spray the mixture around edges of your garden to deter animals like your pets, rabbits, gophers, and moles from being garden crashers.
- 2-3 garlic bulbs (about 6-10 cloves per bulb)
- 6 large or 12 smaller hot chilli peppers (any variety, or try 1-2 tablespoon hot chilli powder)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap
- 7 cups water. (Use about 2-3 cups in the blender, and top up with the rest later)
Put the ingredients in a blender and puree, then strain through some muslin or a coffee filter. Pour what you need into a spray bottle for use and keep the rest in well labeled sealed jars on a shelf.
Spray every few days. If there are still a few big pests, then lower the water dilution rate. When there are no signs of pests, spray once every week or after rain has washed the spray off plants.
Don’t spray for ants (you only get 1-2% of them that way). Instead, use boric acid, and keep attractive food debris swept up.
Slugs & Snails:
The best time to patrol for slugs and snails is dusk when it's damp or raining. Scoop them up with an old spoon, dump them in a bucket and scrape them out somewhere where they won't be a pest - or sprinkle salt on them to instantly kill them.
Sprinkle crushed egg shells or a band of fine sand 1/4" high around vulnerable plants. Slugs and snails will avoid crossing the sharp surface.
Also try putting beer or vinegar in a shallow pan (or empty tuna fish can) settled into the ground in the garden to trap/drown snails and slugs overnight.
Crumple some newspaper in old flower pots and set them on their sides around the garden. The earwigs will hide in the paper. In the morning, shake the paper out into a bucket of hot water.
Do some housekeeping. Don't leave food out, put stored food in containers and empty the crumb tray of your toaster.
Deter mice with peppermint or eucalyptus oil soaked cotton-balls. Put them where mice come in or have been.
EPA videos regarding pesticides and healthy lawn care practices.