Organic Pest Control

Organic Pest Control

People gardened long before pesticides existed, so how did they deal with pests? By working with nature, instead of against it. Here’s a look at some of the organic pest control measures that I have in place in my garden.

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How to Handle a Broody Hen

How to Handle a Broody Hen

The hormones have hit the hen house, folks. Last week, when we went out to collect eggs, we were met by a broody hen. See the crazy stand-up feathers? That’s her puffing up to protect the eggs that she’s sitting on. That lovely look also came with a not-so-lovely screech.

Feathered Nest

Upon closer inspection, we discovered that she’d also been pulling out feathers to feather her nest for the chicks that she thought she was going to have. Quite the optimist, considering that she’s never so much as laid eyes on a rooster.

Since this was our first broody, I did some research to decide how we wanted to handle the situation. [Read more...]

Get Hens to Lay in Their Nest Boxes

Fake Egg

Easter egg hunts are fun, but you probably don’t want to hunt for eggs every day. Show your hens that you want them to lay in their nest boxes by sticking a fake egg in each nest box.

When our chickens were approaching laying age (5-6 months), I picked up two marble eggs from a flea market, and stuck one in each nest box. It worked like a charm. When we go out to collect eggs, they’re right where they should be.

And don’t feel like you have to have marble eggs. Use a ceramic egg, a wooden egg or even a golf ball. Anything remotely egg shaped should do the trick.

More Tips to Get Hens to Use Their Nest Boxes:

  • Make them private – Position your nest boxes in a dark, quiet spot in the coop
  • Make sure you have enough nest boxes – One box for every five hens is about right.
  • Make them cozy – Fill your nest boxes with a good amount of shavings or straw. Replenish them whenever they get low
  • Keep your hens inside until they lay – If you let your hens free range, wait until after they’ve laid to let them out for the day. Once they understand that eggs go in their nest boxes, you can go back to letting them out first thing in the morning. Ours are good about heading back to the coop to lay

How to Build a Ladybug House

How to Build a Ladybug House

We built mason bee houses to attract pollinators for our fruit trees. Now, that that’s worked, we’re working to attract more beneficial bugs to help with the pest control.

Since this is the first year that our apricot bushes have fruited, making sure they’re well protected is top priority. I did some research to figure out which pests we were likely to be up against, and learned that aphids are one of the biggest threats. Knowing that ladybugs have a voracious appetite for aphids, I decided it was time for us to finally build that ladybug house that’s been sitting on my to-do list for ages.

We already have a good ladybug population in our yard, but by building them a house, we hope to encourage them to overwinter in our yard, so they’ll be ready to go to work for us as soon as the warm weather arrives each spring. And since we’ll be placing our new ladybug house next to our apricot bushes, that should mean our bushes will be well protected from aphids all season long.

Ladybugs also eat mites, white flies and scale, so we may just have to build another one for our vegetable garden.

Want to build your own ladybug house? Here’s how we made ours: [Read more...]

Is It Safe to Reuse Egg Cartons?

Reuse Egg Cartons

Egg cartons sell for $.49 each at my local Tractor Supply. The ones my neighbors save for me are free. But is it safe to reuse egg cartons? [Read more...]