Hot Tip: Baking Soda Remedies In the Garden

It's "container garden" this and "grow your own vegetables" that here at Re-Nest, and we have to say that all the tips are definitely helping our miniature front-patio farm, where we saw our first green beans just yesterday!

So this weekend, when we noticed an ailment affecting the foliage on some of our plants, we thought we'd investigate and share the results with you. Some of the leaves on our bean, pepper, and basil plants began yellowing. We also noticed scores of tiny black gnats spending a lot of time in the soil, seemingly not interested in the foliage. We turned to the Web for answers and are happy to say we've got a possible solution...Turns out that our plants are communicating with us. They're saying, "Enough with the water!"

The yellowing spots on the leaves are likely (we're no botanists, so we're giving the diagnosis our best shot here) a type of leaf fungus caused by over-wet conditions. With our frequent watering and the surprising amount of springtime rain we've had, it makes sense that some of the hardy plants are not very thirsty. The black bugs are fungus gnats that are present when the soil is too moist.

Solution? Simple. Turn to that golden box of sodium bicarbonate that we love so much.

We opened up The Organic Manual by J. Howard Garrett (chock-full of fantastic organic gardening information) and found a basic recipe for baking soda spray, which will deter both the fungus on the leaves and the gnats on the soil.

In a milk jug that we'd been saving for a rainy day, we mixed:
• 4 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon gentle, biodegradable soap (Meyer's Clean Day dish soap should do the trick)
• 1 gallon water

Mix well and spray on afflicted foliage or soil as needed.

After one day of use, the gnats are gone and we have high hopes for the leaves. Hopefully the leaves go back to their previously spring-green color soon!

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