Organic Gardening Composting and Pest Control Tips

I will add some of my tips to this question:

Wow, I am so motivated to begin a garden, something we’ve wanted to do for a long time. We did try to grow some tomatoes and carrots once, but failed due to positioning of the garden. I will get the book you have recommended. Do you make your own compost? I love the idea of making my own, but had been afraid of having a compost pile in my small backyard UNTIL I saw one of those big plastic barrel “things” that you simply add to it and give it a spin. Also, what are your tips for organic growing, but keeping away the bugs?
Thanks for the much needed encouragement. I’ll be waiting for any additional tips you may have.

Candace in San Antonio

I am not an expert gardener.  I still have a lot to learn, but what I have learned, I don’t mind sharing.  My husband and I planted a small garden the very first year of our marriage.  We put some tomatoes, okra and squash in our flower bed in the back yard.  While we were the only people to have corn growing along our fence line in our little neighborhood, we were proud of that corn.  I was able to stock my freezer with corn that lasted us for a very long time.  In fact, we had so much squash that I gave it to my neighbor.  She was an elderly lady that came over one day and said, “What’s a matter..Don’t you know how to eat squash?!”  I actually didn’t know what to do with it.  She wrote out a recipe for squash casserole that I still use today.  It was a great little start.  Every year since then, we have grown some sort of garden something…but nothing huge yet, because of space limitations which will no longer be a problem.  I have learned a lot from trial and error.  I have made so many mistakes!  I really believe gardening is a art form that can be learned and improved. 
Yes, we make our own compost.  When we started composting, I became keenly aware of how much we waste!  Composting, for me, became sort of a necessary part of life.  I no longer had a garbage disposal and was forced to come up with alternative ways to dispose of items. 
I compost tea leaves, tea bags, coffee, coffee filters, some paper and cardboard, lots of leaves, small twigs and plant clippings, kitchen food scraps that are veggie and fruit related, egg shells, ashes, rabbit manure, old barn hay, grass clippings.  I do not have a container for it, but when we move, I would like to build a composting area out of wood pallets.  Right now our black gold pile is behind the barn and the chickens are constantly scratching through it.  Ever so often, I put the boys to work turning over the pile to aerate it.  And…Yes… we will be taking our compost pile with us when we move. 
For other kitchen waste, such as scraps from plates after supper, left over oatmeal, and other food that you would not want to put in the compost pile, we feed to our chickens and they eat every bit of it up like it were candy!  I also recycle glass jars, plastic jugs, tin cans, paper that doesn’t go into the compost.  One of the biggest changes I have noticed is that our garbage outage has dramatically decreased! 
Garden Pests: 
Chemical pesticides are toxic and dangerous, but not only that, they do nothing to add anything beneficial to the plant or soil,  so I do not spray my plants.  Organic gardening benefits the plant and soil, as well as people,  by using natural, God-given, substances and techniques to help keep the plants and soil healthy. 
You will not be able to rid your garden of all bugs.  Bugs are everywhere, however, you will want to watch out that certain bugs do not develop a liking for your plants and feed on them. 
Some of the best pest control tips are some of the most over looked: 

  • Handpicking – One time I asked my grandmother what I could do about some bugs that were on my garden plants.  She said, “Well, I always just pick them off and kill’em.”  Hmm… now that was a simple remedy that many never even think about!  Hand picking is an old fashion effective way to control many pests.
  • Water – sometimes a good spraying will get rid of some pests.  Soapy water is also a cure that I have found to be useful.  I have a spray bottle of water and hand soap.  I spray it on affected plants in the early morning or late evening with focusing on spraying the ground around the plant with the soapy water.  Bugs do not like soapy water. 
  • Herbs and flowers that repel bugs.  Plant lots of marigolds in and around your garden.  Other herbs like chives, horseradish, mint, lemon balm, lemon basil, citronella type plants keep bugs away.  Huge varieties of these plants are available and very useful in your garden.
  • Kelp – Although I have not personally used this yet, I am reading about using Kelp in my garden.  Kelp is highly beneficial to the soil and helps your plants develop resistance against common pests and diseases.  It is sort of like building up your immune system so that you can fight off sickness.  The idea is to build nutrient rich soil so that you will have strong plants.  Composting is also a great way to build healthy strong plants so that you will have less problems with diseased and pest ridden plants.  Chemical toxic pesticides only create bigger problems with pests and disease in the long run. 
  • You may also use other things like barriers, traps, reflector tape, shinny things etc. to deter pests like birds, moles or deer. 
  • Diatomaceous Earth – We use this with our animals as well.  It is microscopic crushed sea shell that literally mechanically kills pests by cutting them up and causing them to dehydrate and die.  You can research this organic multi-useful ingredient by searching for Diatomaceous Earth organic pest control.  This is amazing stuff!
  • Lime, sulphur, baking soda, vinegar, salt, flour and other natural compounds also can be used. 

With all the variety we have to kill harmful pests, harmful pesticides are not necessary.  We just need to be re-educated and learn how to use these natural, non-toxic remedies.
I still have much more to learn to even claim to be a gardener.  For now, I am using gardening as a wonderful way to expose my children to a variety of practical life applications.  They are learning everything from how deep to plant certain seeds, to healthy soil composition, to caring for plants and learning a variety of organic pest control techniques.  Gardening offers children a huge learning field!  Don’t feel bad if you skip on the bookwork and spend a lot of time outside in the dirt! 
As we have embarked on learning how to garden, we have come to a greater appreciation for all the beauty God has given us.  So many times, we are too busy to stop and look at our world around us and see how abundant and beautiful it is.  Fast paced industrialism has jaded our view and sometimes all it takes is stepping out into the back yard to watch a hummingbird sip his nectar or a bee buzz around a patch of spring flowers to remember the simple, natural aspects that make up life. 


  • Lisa says:

    Thank you for such a helpful and informative posting. It’s relativeness and timing is perfect for this beginner gardener. Please share more… Love the way you explain things and how you involve your children.

  • Candace says:

    Thank you so much, Bethany! Can’t wait to get started!

  • […] Dill, Basil, Marigolds and Tomatoes: Dill weed is not only a wonderful herb to grow and use in the kitchen, but it is a beneficial pest deterrent. Dill is supposed to keep the tomato horn worm away. We had an awaking with this pest. They show up out of no where and can eat a full grown tomato plant before you know it. I keep my eye out for this pest and use the old-fashion hand picking and destroy method for control. Basil also repels the tomato worm as well as deters mosquitoes and flies as well as increases the flavor of tomatoes because it conditions the soil with certain beneficial nutrients. This year, I am planning on experimenting with these combinations of tomato companion planting. […]

  • Darcy says:

    I found your site through Noble Womanhood. This information was so helpful as I am a novice gardener. I am looking forward to trying out some of these tips this year in my small garden.

  • […] She is my garden helper and today she learned the art and science of old fashion hand-picking pest control.  Although she had her own way of disposing of the pests….a big slap between her hands, I still prefer stepping on the pests with my shoe.  At any rate, we accomplished the same goal—ridding our plant of a few beetles that decided to have our bean plant for lunch.  […]

  • […] She is my garden helper and today she learned the art and science of old fashion hand-picking pest control.  Although she had her own way of disposing of the pests….a big slap between her hands, I still prefer stepping on the pests with my shoe.  At any rate, we accomplished the same goal—ridding our plant of a few beetles that decided to have our bean plant for lunch.  […]