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It’s winter, so you’re planning out your spring garden. And this time you want to go organic. You know you’ll have to learn to live with the odd nibbled leaf, but there are certain times when the ‘taxes’ taken by the wildlife that shares your garden are just too high. Just know that you don’t have to resort to expensive, polluting and unhealthy pesticides and pellets in order to get your pest problems under control. With a little effort and imagination, you can garden organically and still get a great yield. Here are a few of the tricks of the trade:

Netting and Shielding:

One of the easiest measures you can take against larger pests is simply to net or shield your crops. You may wish to net brassicas against butterflies and birds and fruit against birds and small mammals like rabbits, hares, mice or shrews. You can also, for example, use finer mesh nets to protect carrots from carrot flies if they are a problem where you live. Fine mesh can be sued to protect plants wherever one particular crop might be particularly badly affected by pests.

Companion Planting:

When planning an organic garden, it is best to avoid large areas of one plant, which are more susceptible to disease and pests. Instead, you should plant your flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs in groups of compatible plants that might even help one another. Companion planting is an inexact science but many gardeners do see the benefits of planting some plants alongside others. Some aid with nutrient collection, others repel pests or distract them away from more valuable specimens while still others help in other, less well documented and less studied ways.

Crop Rotation:

When planning a vegetable garden you should consider crop rotation in your plans because if you decide to grow some crops in the same locations year after year, they can be far more likely to succumb to pests and diseases. Crop rotation can not only reduce pest problems, it can also help you to maintain the fertility and usefulness of your soil.

Tricks and Traps:

Organic gardeners have a number of tricks and traps up their sleeves to deal with slugs, snails and other garden pests. Beer traps and other enticements can allow you to get rid of an over-abundance of slugs and snails but really, it is better to try to maintain a healthy ecosystem in your back yard so no one element gets out of proportion in the first place.

Nematode and Predator Controls:

Slugs and snails are a common problem for many gardeners around the world. If you have a serious problem then introducing nematodes into your garden could be a good if expensive option. But rather than resorting to such measures, the first step should simply be to encourage a number of natural predators into your yard. There are some birds that will eat slugs and snails (if you keep chickens or ducks these will pick off quite a few for you) and aquatic life like frogs will also give you a helping hand with pests. Got a problem with aphids? All you have to do is attract a range of predatory insects like ladybugs and other things that will make a meal of the little flies. Good planting schemes will go a long way towards helping you with that.

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3 Alternatives to Shampoo

Shampoo often contains harsh ingredients that can damage your hair and even lead to allergic reactions. Making your own hair cleanser at home can help to protect and nourish your hair and scalp, while also reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals found in commercial shampoos. Here are three natural alternatives to shampoo.

Egg

Egg is one of the best alternatives to shampoo, as eggs are natural cleansers that can help to repair and strengthen damaged hair. Eggs are packed with nourishing proteins that can even help to reduce hair loss and stimulate regrowth. Whisk one or two eggs in a bowl to create a smooth mixture, then apply the eggs to wet hair, massaging gently into the hair and scalp. Rinse thoroughly with tepid water to remove all traces of the egg. Never use hot water, as this will cause the egg to set.

Tea

Tea won’t create a lather, but it makes an excellent liquid cleanser that leaves your hair feeling soft, looking shiny and smelling great. Black tea, green tea, redbush tea and even herbal teas such as chamomile can all be used as a shampoo replacement. Add two or three tea bags to a pint of boiling water and allow to steep for ten minutes. Squeeze and remove the tea bags, then leave the liquid to cool. Pour the tea on wet hair and massage vigorously into the scalp. Rinse out with cold water for extra shine.

Soap Nuts

Soap nuts make an effective cleanser that can be used to remove build-up from hair products. Soap nuts need to be prepared in advance, so they’re not a quick fix, but they will leave your hair feeling soft, smooth and silky. Add seven or eight soap nuts to five cups of water, place in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes. Use a blender to liquidize the mixture until smooth, then allow to cool. The mixture can then be used in the same way as regular shampoo.

Shampoo contains ingredients that can damage hair and cause skin reactions, but there are natural alternatives for keeping your hair clean. Using natural products will also help to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. Egg, tea and soap nuts are three of the best shampoo alternatives.


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