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Disease Control
24 fl. oz. Ready-to-use

  • Natural fungicide and bactericide
  • Ready-to-use formula
  • Treats and prevents common plant diseases
  • Can be used on both houseplants and outdoor organic gardens
  • OMRI Listed® for use in organic gardening
  • Pet friendly fungicide
  • Bee safe
  • Safe for People, Pets & Planet

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Description

A new generation of disease control formulated from citric acid, Earth's Ally Disease Control is a fungicide and bactericide that leaves no harmful residues and can be used up until day of harvest. Use for all plants and trees: vegetables, fruits, flowers, ornamentals, trees and shrubs. Treats and controls: mildew, blight, canker, black spot and leaf spot.

How To Video

Natural Formula

  • Active Ingredients: Citric Acid (0.02%)
  • Inert Ingredients: Water, Lactose, Ethyl Lactate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Acetate (99.98%)
  • View the labels and SDS sheets here

Earth's Ally Disease Control is formulated with food-grade citric acid. The citric acid forms a protective barrier on the leaf surface that inhibits pathogen development. When used as a preventative treatment, it has anti-fungal effects to reduce bacterial growth and prevent disease on plants.

Directions for Use

For Preventative Care

  • Shake the bottle well
  • Apply a fine mist to the stems and leaves
  • Thoroughly cover the plant until there is runoff
  • Spray every 7-10 days to keep plants healthy

For Heavy Disease

  • Treat at first sign of disease
  • Shake the bottle well
  • Apply a fine mist to the stems and leaves
  • Thoroughly cover the plant until there is runoff
  • Wait 4 hours, then repeat application a second time
  • Repeat this process every 5 days, as needed

Available Sizes

  • 24 fl. oz. ready-to-use
  • 32 fl. oz. concentrate (makes 10 gallons)

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24 fl. oz. Ready-to-use”
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As a Growing Number of National Retailers Respond to Increasing Consumer Demand for Non-toxic Garden Products, Earth’s Ally Expands its Reach with Availability in 60 New NorCal Ace Hardware Locations

SARASOTA, FL., March 17, 2021 -- Earth's Ally, a natural line of safe, effective and responsible organic gardening products, today announces its newest retail partnership with the world’s largest hardware retail cooperative, Ace Hardware, to make its natural gardening products more accessible to American households. 

Beginning in March 2021, the complete line of Earth’s Ally products, Insect Control, Disease Control, and Weed & Grass Killer, will be available for consumers to purchase in more than 60 NorCal Ace Retailer Group locations throughout California.

The distribution partnership with Ace Hardware follows other distribution announcements with major home improvement stores including Lowe’s (available May 2021) and HomeDepot.com, speaking to the rapidly growing consumer demand for organic gardening solutions. 

“The demand for safe and effective gardening products continues to grow, especially as more people take up gardening for the first time. As we head into spring, retailers are listening to gardeners who want a safe weed killer and non-toxic garden sprays that can be used around pets and children. Earth’s Ally is proud to offer an assortment of products that meet this need perfectly and make them available to consumers at Ace Hardware stores,” said Scott Allshouse, CEO and President of Earth’s Ally.

Safe for people, pets and the planet, Earth’s Ally products use food-grade ingredients, which are Field-tested, Farmer Approved® and proven effective. The team at Earth’s Ally is dedicated to educating consumers on the harmful use of synthetic chemicals in pesticides and providing more access to its safe and effective products for home gardeners, landscapers and municipalities.

Available Earth’s Ally products in NorCal Ace this spring: 

  • Earth’s Ally Weed & Grass Killer: Earth’s Ally Weed & Grass Killer is a non-selective herbicide that delivers visible results in 3 hours. Powered by sea salt, soap and vinegar, the Earth’s Ally Weed & Grass Killer formula kills weeds to the root without harming the earth and is FIFRA 25(b) Exempt. The formula leaves no harmful residual and is safe for use around pollinators, pets and children. 
  • Earth’s Ally Insect Control: Earth’s Ally Insect Control is an OMRI Listed® contact insecticide, miticide and repellent for use on houseplants and in organic gardens. Formulated with a high concentration of active ingredients, Earth’s Ally uses 100% botanical oils -- rosemary oil, clove oil, peppermint oil -- to provide a quick knockdown on mites and soft-bodied insects. The formula leaves no harmful residual and is safe for use around pollinators, pets and children. 
  • Earth’s Ally Disease Control: Earth’s Ally Disease Control is an OMRI Listed® contact fungicide and bactericide for use on houseplants and in organic gardens. Formulated with food-grade citric acid, Earth’s Ally is highly effective at treating and preventing powdery, downy mildew, blight, canker and leaf spots. The formula leaves no harmful residual and is safe for use around pollinators, pets and children. 

About Earth’s Ally

At Earth's Ally, we are committed to protecting our pollinators and offer a complete lineup of Bee Safe gardening products that have been scrutinized and tested by independent laboratories to ensure they are both effective and Safe for People, Pets & Planet. Our Field-Tested, Farmer Approved® Insect Control and Disease Control sprays have been selected from the most effective OMRI Listed® formulas in the organic agricultural industry and bottled specifically for the home gardener. Without using harmful and synthetic chemicals, we developed a Weed and Grass Killer formula that delivers visible results in three hours. Earth’s Ally formulas are proud to be Safe for People, Pets & Planet.

quotation mark right NorCal Ace Hardware to Add Earth's Ally Natural Garden Products
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

Victory Gardens 2.0

Interest in vegetable gardening has surged over the past year as a result of more people staying home, wanting to avoid frequent trips to the grocery store, and worries of food shortages during the pandemic. Because of these recent concerns the idea of creating a victory gardening has surged. Victory Gardens are not a new concept, they have been around since World War I.

So, what is a Victory Garden? The term was first conceptualized in response to food shortages during the war. Americans were encouraged to grow their own food to support the war effort.  Millions of new gardens were created as a result.  History seems to be repeating itself as we are witnessing a revival of this rewarding lifestyle. Today, new gardens are being created as gardeners are becoming “victorious” in their organic gardening pursuits. 

Victory Garden Plans: Getting Started

Getting started may seem overwhelming for some people and the common phrase is “I don’t have a green thumb.”  The truth is, you don’t need a green thumb, you just need to follow a few simple steps to be successful. 

First of all, you don’t have to have a large garden plot. You don’t even need a garden plot at all.  If you live in an apartment or condo and have just a tiny bit of space, you can grow many of your favorite herbs, veggies, and flowers in containers. 

Be sure to choose varieties suited to that style of gardening. Choose containers that will be large enough to hold your plants as they progress in size. A few varieties that are the easiest vegetables to grow in raised beds (and this is just a sampling of what’s available):

  • Lettuce: ‘Little Gem’ and ‘Tom Thumb’
  • Cucumbers: ‘Patio Snacker’ and ‘Spacemaster’
  • Eggplant: ‘Patio Baby’ and ‘Morden Midget’
  • Tomatoes: ‘Patio Princess’ and ‘Sweetheart of the Patio’
  • And there are many more…

Joining your local community garden is another great way to garden if you don’t have enough space in your yard but want to enjoy the many benefits of growing vegetables.  New gardeners can learn how to grow vegetables from others in a community setting as you share ideas as well as fresh food while making new friends. 

8 Tips To Help New Gardeners Be Successful

  1. Start with plants instead of seeds. You will save time and avoid any mistakes that can happen during the seed starting process.  
  2. “Location, location, location” is true for many things, and where to place your garden is no exception. Choose a location that receives at least six hours of sun every day.  Identify low areas of your yard that would pool water.  Avoid areas where there might be competition from tree roots. If you have many large trees that would compete with your garden for water and nutrients, you may want to consider planting in raised beds. 
  3. Raised beds offer some advantages such as ease of planting, weed control, and better soil.
  4. Whether you garden in raised beds, containers, or directly in the soil, be sure to invest in high-quality soil amendments.  Most soils are depleted of nutrients and microbial life vital to growing successful plants. Amendments such as compost, and worm castings or other organic matter will build a soil suitable for all your plants.
  5. Mulch the soil around your plants.  Keep mulch away from the stems of plants as this can injure them.  Mulch will also add organic matter to your soil composition. 
  6. Add a balanced organic fertilizer following package recommendations.
  7. Create a garden you can maintain. Don’t go big first time around. Start with a manageable size so you won’t be overwhelmed.  You can always expand later.
  8. Invest in a few simple tools; a shovel, rake, trowel, hoe, pruners, and gloves.  

Vegetable Garden Pests and Disease

Garden pests such as mites, white flies, and aphids can wreak havoc in your garden.  While we want to keep them off our plants, we do not want to harm pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Earth’s Ally Insect Control will control and repel these pests without harming the pollinators that are vital to your garden.  

Diseases can also affect your veggie plants. Mildews can attack cucumbers, spinach and other plants. Other diseases include blights and leaf spots that can cause problems.  Earth’s Ally Disease control will protect your plants against fungus diseases safely and effectively.  You can harvest your crops the same day without worrying about harmful chemicals.

From Garden-to-Table

To witness first-hand the germination of a seed and watch it transform into a garden treasure is an opportunity to participate in nature’s miracles.  From seed to plant, from plant to table the entire process is an enchanting experience. Have fun in your garden, whatever Victory Garden you decide to create.

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you grow healthy Victory Gardens. Share your experience and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right How To Start an Organic Vegetable Garden
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

How to Identify and Treat Plant Disease

Protect your plants from debilitating diseases by learning to recognize the symptoms and practice prevention.  A wholistic approach includes first identifying the pathogen.  Then decide on a treatment method that is safe, effective and responsible. Read on and bookmark this page for plant disease identification.

Black Spot 

Black spot is one of the most common diseases found on roses, but it can also occur on other ornamental and garden plants.  This fungal disease causes black, round spots that form on the upper sides of leaves. Lower leaves are usually infected first.  Severe infestations cause infected leaves to turn yellow and fall off the plant. Black spot is a problem during extended periods of wet weather or when leaves are wet for 6 hours or more. Black spot spores overwinter in the fallen leaves. 

Tips for Controlling Black Spots on Leaves

  • Plant in well-draining soil. Keep your plants healthy by providing regular feedings of organic fertilizer. This will help prevent fungal disease in plants.
  • The fungus spores overwinter in plant debris. Remove dead leaves and infected canes from around the plants and disguard in the trash. Do not add to the compost pile.
  • Disinfect your pruners with a household disinfectant after every use.  Ethanol or isopropyl alcohol can be used straight out of the bottle.  
  • Because water (not wind) spreads the fungal spores, avoid applying water on the leaves.  When you water, apply water directly to the roots. Use a soaker hose to water plants prone to the disease.

Other Leaf Spots

Fungal leaf spot disease can be found both indoors on houseplants, and outdoors in the landscape. This occurs during warm, wet conditions. As the disease progresses, the fungal spots grow large enough to touch each other.  At this point the leaf surface appears more like blotches than spots.  Leaf spot may result in defoliation of a plant.  Follow the same tips as the ones to control black spot.

Powdery Mildew  

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects many of our landscape plants, flowers, vegetables and fruits. Powdery mildew is an easy one to identify. Infected plants will display a white powdery substance that is most visible on upper leaf surfaces, but it can appear anywhere on the plant including stems, flower buds, and even the fruit of the plant.  This fungus thrives during low soil moisture conditions combined with high humidity levels on the upper parts of the plant surface.  It tends to affect plants kept in shady areas more than those in direct sun.

Tips for Controlling Powdery Mildew

  • Inspect plants that you buy from a greenhouse before purchasing for mildew (and insects). 
  • Wiping off the leaves is not an effective powdery mildew treatment as it will return within days of cleaning.
  • Because spores overwinter in debris all infected debris should be removed. Trim and remove infected plant parts. 
  • Do not till the debris into the soil or use in the compost pile. 
  • Space plants far enough apart to increase air circulation and reduce humidity.

Downy Mildew

Because downy mildews differ from powdery mildews, it is important to understand the differences between the two.  Powdery mildews are true fungal pathogens that display a white powdery substance on the upper leaves.  Downy mildews, on the other hand, are more related to algae and produce grayish fuzzy looking spores on the lower surfaces of leaves.  To identify downy mildew, look for pale green or yellow spots on the upper surfaces of older leaves.  On the lower surfaces, the fungus will display a white to grayish, cotton-like downy substance. Downy mildew occurs during cool, moist weather such as in early spring or late fall.  Spore production is favored by temperatures below 65°F and with a high relative humidity. 

Tips for Downy Mildew Treatment

  • Downy mildew needs water to survive and spread.  It there is no water on your leaves, the disease cannot spread. Keep water off leaves as much as possible.   
  • Because the disease overwinters on dead plant debris, be sure to clean around your plants in the fall to help prevent the disease in the following spring.

*Some of the fungicides used to control powdery mildew will not control downy mildew.  Earth’s Ally’s fungicide will control both powdery and downy mildew.

Blight

Plant blight is a common disease. Remember the potato famine in the 1840’s?  As a result of the blight, one million people died.  But other than potatoes, blight also affects other plants, particularly tomatoes. Blight is a fungal disease that spreads through spores that are windborne.  For this reason, spores can cover large areas and rapidly spread the infection.  Blight can only spread under warm humid conditions, especially with two consecutive days of temps above 50°F, and humidity above 90% for eleven hours or more. No cure exists.  Prevention is the only option.

Tips for Preventing Blight

  • If growing potatoes, grow early varieties because blight occurs during mid-summer and you can harvest your crop before the blight.
  • Plant resistant varieties:  Sarpo Mira and Sarpo Axona are two varieties that show good resistance. Practice good garden hygiene. 
  • Destroy any blight-infected plant parts.  Keep the area clean of fallen debris from your diseased plants and discard in the trash.  Do not add to your compost pile.

Canker

Canker is often identified by an open wound that has been infected by fungal or bacterial pathogens.  Some cankers are not serious while others can be lethal.  Canker occurs primarily on woody landscape plants. Symptoms may include sunken, swollen, cracked or dead areas found on stems, limbs or trunk.  Cankers can girdle branches, and kill foliage. Cankers are most common on stressed plants that have been weakened by cold, insects, drought conditions, nutritional imbalances or root rot.  Rodents can also spread the pathogens.

Tips for Controlling Canker in Plants

  • Remove diseased parts in dry weather.
  • Grow resistant varieties whenever possible.
  • Avoid overwatering and overcrowding; avoid mechanical wounds such as damage from lawn mowers.
  • Wrap young, newly planted trees to prevent sunscald. Sunscald creates dead patches that form on trunk and limbs of young trees if the trunks have been shaded, then transplanted to sunny areas.
  • Keep plants healthy by planting in healthy soils and maintaining nutritional requirements.

Tips to Control Plant Fungus and Diseases

First and foremost, build a well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter prior to planting. Raise the beds if necessary and fill the beds with a commercial potting mix that drains well. Soils that hold too much water can cause rotting. Avoid getting water on leaves. Hand water at the root zone or use a soaker hose. Fertilize as necessary to keep plants in peak condition. 

  • Choose resistant varieties whenever possible.
  • Prune or stake plants, do not crowd them, and remove tall weeds to improve air circulation.
  • Plants in containers can be placed away from areas that do not receive air circulation.
  • Remove any infected debris to keep the disease from spreading. Remove and place in the trash (not in the compost bin) severely infected plants.
  • Water during early morning hours so the plants can dry out and avoid getting water on the leaves.  Water later in the day if downy mildew is present as it favors morning moisture. Either way, avoid getting water on the leaves.  A soaker hose will keep water at the root zone and help keep the spores from spreading.
  • Inspect all plants before purchasing from your local greenhouse for disease symptoms and pests.
  • Disinfect pruners after cutting diseased plant parts. 
  • Purchase a hand lens. A 10x hand lens is a great way to detect fungus and insect problems.  Besides that, a hand lens allows you to see thing in nature difficult to see with the naked eye.

Keep all parts of the plant protected by using a fungicide for plants. Earth-friendly fungicide spray like plant Disease Control is an OMRI Listed® contact fungicide and bactericide for use on houseplants and in organic gardens. Formulated with food-grade citric acid, Earth’s Ally is highly effective at treating and preventing the common plant diseases outlined in this article.

These steps will build a healthy immune system and help avoid disease (and insect) problems. Diseases and pests tend to attack weak, stressed plants.  Think of your immune system. The better it is, the better it will fight disease.

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you grow healthy plants. Share your experience with the Disease Control formula and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right Common Plant Diseases
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Signifying a Shift in Consumer Demand for Non-Toxic Garden Products, Earth’s Ally Expands Reach with Lowe's Distribution Partnership and Availability in 500+ New Locations and Online

SARASOTA, FL., March 1, 2021 -- Earth’s Ally, a natural line of safe, effective and responsible organic gardening products, today announces a new retail partnership with Lowe’s, one of America’s most well-known home improvement stores and a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company.

Beginning in May 2021, the complete line of Earth’s Ally organic gardening products, Insect Control, Disease Control, and Weed & Grass Killer, will be available for consumers to purchase in more than 500 Lowe’s retail stores nationwide. Additionally, all Earth’s Ally products are now available on Lowes.com.

“Recently, we’ve seen a big increase in interest in our safe, effective gardening products that are made with non-toxic, natural ingredients. Retailers are listening to new, and existing, gardeners who want products that are safe around their families and pets, but still work. We’re proud to offer products that meet this need perfectly and make them available nationwide through a home improvement leader like Lowe’s,” said Scott Allshouse, CEO and President of Earth’s Ally.

Safe for people, pets and the planet, Earth’s Ally products use food-grade ingredients, which are Field-tested, Farmer Approved® and proven effective. The team at Earth’s Ally is dedicated to educating consumers on the harmful use of synthetic chemicals in pesticides and providing more access to its safe and effective products for home gardeners, landscapers and municipalities.

Available Earth’s Ally products in Lowe’s stores this spring: 

  • Earth’s Ally Weed & Grass Killer: Earth’s Ally Weed & Grass Killer is a non-selective herbicide that delivers visible results in 3 hours. Powered by sea salt, soap and vinegar, the Earth’s Ally Weed & Grass Killer formula kills weeds to the root without harming the earth and is FIFRA 25(b) Exempt. The formula leaves no harmful residual and is safe for use around pollinators, pets and children. 
  • Earth’s Ally Insect Control: Earth’s Ally Insect Control is an OMRI Listed® contact insecticide, miticide and repellent for use on houseplants and in organic gardens. Formulated with a high concentration of active ingredients, Earth’s Ally uses 100% botanical oils -- rosemary oil, clove oil, peppermint oil -- to provide a quick knockdown on mites and soft-bodied insects. The formula leaves no harmful residual and is safe for use around pollinators, pets and children. 
  • Earth’s Ally Disease Control: Earth’s Ally Disease Control is an OMRI Listed® contact fungicide and bactericide for use on houseplants and in organic gardens. Formulated with food-grade citric acid, Earth’s Ally is highly effective at treating and preventing powdery, downy mildew, blight, canker and leaf spots. The formula leaves no harmful residual and is safe for use around pollinators, pets and children. 

About Earth’s Ally

At Earth's Ally, we are committed to protecting our pollinators and offer a complete lineup of Bee Safe gardening products that have been scrutinized and tested by independent laboratories to ensure they are both effective and Safe for People, Pets & Planet. Our Field-Tested, Farmer Approved® Insect Control and Disease Control sprays have been selected from the most effective OMRI Listed® formulas in the organic agricultural industry and bottled specifically for the home gardener. Without using harmful and synthetic chemicals, we developed a Weed and Grass Killer formula that delivers visible results in three hours. Earth’s Ally formulas are proud to be Safe for People, Pets & Planet.

quotation mark right Lowe’s Distribution Partnership
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Pesticides 101: Learn the Terminology

Growing organic is about more than avoiding toxic chemicals. It’s about building healthy soil, growing healthy plants and harvesting delicious and flavorful vegetables. To do that, you have to know and understand the non-toxic tools available to protect your garden from pests, which can be tricky and confusing.

There are so many formulas at the garden center, like garden pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. What do they all mean? And which ones are organic pesticides? Read on for the tools to shop the garden aisle with confidence.

What are Pesticides?

The term “pesticide” can be confusing because it is a classification given to substances, both natural pesticides and synthetic chemicals, that are used to kill, repel or control a pest. The term “pesticide” is broad and applies to the other “-cides” available, like herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.

Types of Pesticides

Herbicides (plants)

Herbicides are the most commonly applied pesticide. Used for weed management, there are a few different categories of herbicides that determine what it kills and how it works.

  • Some herbicides are non-selective formulas and will kill all the plants they touch while other synthetic chemicals are selective and have been designed to target one just species.
  • Another designation is pre- and post-emergent formulations. Some herbicides kill weeds on contact while other synthetic chemicals have been designed to contain pre-emergent qualities that interrupt the germination and growth of a weed.

In and around an organic garden, you’ll want to use a non-selective, post-emergent herbicide to maintain the health of your soil and nearby plants. 

Insecticides (bugs)

Insecticides are a type of pesticide that are used to specifically target and kill bugs like soft-bodied insects, ants and wasps. There are two main classifications of formulas, contact vs. systemic. Some insecticides kill bugs on contact without residual activity while other systemic insecticides use a mode of action that has long term effects and stay on the plant for some time. In an organic garden, you’ll want to use an OMRI Listed® contact insecticide that leaves behind no harmful residue.

Fungicides (fungi and bacteria)

Fungicides are a type of pesticide that are used to specifically target plant pathogens, like fungus and bacteria. There are two main classifications of formulas, contact vs. systemic. Some fungicides kill fungi and bacteria on contact without residual activity while other systemic fungicides are taken into the plant tissue for long term effects and residual activity. In an organic garden, you’ll want to use an OMRI Listed® contact fungicide that leaves behind no harmful residue.

Say No To Synthetic Chemicals

There are natural pesticide formulas that can be used in an organic garden. When shopping, look closely at the label. All pesticides are carefully evaluated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for toxicity to humans and other organisms. Synthetic and harsh chemicals will have an EPA Registration number clearly labelled to ensure proper use and protect both people and the environment. Pesticides that contain ingredients that are generally recognized as safe by the EPA qualify for a minimum risk exemption called FIFRA 25(b). Now that you know more about pesticides and which ones to avoid in an organic garden, remember that Earth’s Ally products are all FIFRA 25(b) Exempt.

About Earth’s Ally Formulas

Natural Insect Control Plant Disease Spray
 Insect Control Weed & Grass Killer Disease Control
FIFRA 25(b)  FIFRA 25(b)  FIFRA 25(b)  
Contact Insecticide  Non-Selective Herbicide  Contact Fungicide  
OMRI Listed for organic gardeningPost-Emergent  OMRI Listed for organic gardening  
Bee SafeBee SafeBee Safe

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally natural pesticides are helping you grow healthy plants. Share your experience with our formulas and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

For further reading on pesticide labeling, please visit the EPA website:

quotation mark right Guide to Garden Pesticides
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

Welcome To The Garden

If you are looking for a happy place in the world, look to the benefits of gardening.  Everything about gardening brings a sense of enjoyment, accomplishment, and yes, sometimes even a bit of frustration.  Gardening engages all the senses.  The life in your garden will take you on a journey through nature’s seasonal transformations from the sight of beautiful colors and forms to inhaling intoxicating fragrances wafting through the night air. From the sights and sounds of early morning pollinators foraging for breakfast, to the touch of the soft lamb’s ear leaf basking in the evening sunset.  And if you grow edibles, the season ends with the taste of a bountiful harvest.  You can grow food for your table and use your fresh cut flowers to adorn it, pick the leaves from your favorite herbs to brew a pot of delicious tea or create a meditation area in the mist of all that bouquet and beauty.

The garden is beneficial for body, mind and spirit. Gardening can improve a heavy mood, dissipate feelings of anxiety, lift depression and reduce stress. Gardening is good for mental health. Working in the garden helps to burn calories, while giving your arms and leg muscles a workout. In this time of social distancing, the garden becomes a place of refuge, a place of solace, and a place of excitement as you witness your plants producing food, flowers, medicine and love.

When you include organically grown veggies and fruits into your landscape you will eat healthier knowing your food is toxin free.  Your food goes directly from garden to table, eliminating any questions about how it was handled or where it has been.  The fresher the food, the higher the nutrient value.  And for your body a bit of sun exposure is a natural way to increase your vitamin D and calcium levels to build strong bones and an efficient immune system.

If you are a novice and want to know how to jump into this healthful hobby here are a few tips and tricks to begin your horticultural therapy journey.

Document Your Journey

The first step is to obtain a notebook to use as your garden journal.  Get in the habit of jotting down your observations, ideas and plans. Have design ideas?  Thinking of specific plants that excite you? What type of garden do you want to create?  Is it a mixed border of ornamentals, a garden of all veggies, or veggies, herbs and ornamentals intermixed?  Record information such as what was planted and when.  Include your successes and failures as well as notes on improvements to make next growing season.  Keep a record of what worked, what didn’t, and what you want to change.           

Scouting

Become a scout in your own yard.  What are you scouting?  You’re looking for the perfect location for your garden. Take note of your property’s orientation.  Scout out north, south, east and west.  This will help you decide where to start your garden.  Gardens do best when receiving at least 6 hours of direct sun daily. Do you have an existing landscape that needs to be reshaped, taken out or significantly changed?  Are there existing trees or shrubs blocking your sun exposure?

Make A Plan

Draw up a few simple sketches of your property adding the plants and the placement of each specimen (this can go into your journal). Remember to place taller plants towards the back of the garden and shorter plants closest to the front.

Start Small

If you are unsure about how you want to proceed then start small. Before you tear up your entire yard and live to regret it, small is a good place to begin. Set yourself up for success right from the beginning. Consider starting with a raised bed or consider planting a container garden. Try a simple window box garden or grow some kitchen herbs on a sunny windowsill. This gives you an opportunity to decide if gardening is right for you.

Amend the Soil

Gardens do best in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter.  This step is really the key to success. If you are unsure of your soil composition, you can submit a soil sample to your local extension office for testing.

Mulch

Mulching the soil around your plants is important for a number of reasons.  A good healthy organic mulch adds organic matter to the soil as it decomposes.  It feeds soil microbes, keeps the soil from completely drying out, will keep weeds at bay, and helps conserve water.

Plant Selection

There is a bit of a learning curve when first becoming acquainted with plant selection. The gardeners anthem is “right plant in the right place”.  How will you know what plants grow best in your climate? You can join a gardening group, read gardening books, watch YouTube videos from local experts and thumb through plant catalogs, they contain a wealth of information including plant placement, growing conditions and helpful tips.  Choose plants that are easy to grow and easy to maintain. Enjoy your successes and learn from your failures.  

Tools

Invest in good garden tools.  I’ve had the same pair of pruners for over 25 years.  I keep them clean and sharpened and put away when finished with the day. Good garden tools are a pay off in the long run.  For example, all the parts of the pruners are replaceable so the initial cost diminishes over time.  Purchase a holster to hold your pruners while working to keep them in top shape.  Adjustable knee pads and pads to kneel on when you have to get down on your knees will make planting and weeding so much easier. You’ll also want to buy a good shovel, hand trowel, rake, weeding tools and a good pruning saw. And to make it easy to find your tools once you’ve laid them down in the garden, paint the handles a nice bright color that makes them easy to spot.

There are many health benefits to gardening and perhaps the greatest benefit is that gardening brings people together. Gardening can either be a solo endeavor or a social group activity.  Whether family members or friends from your local garden community, gardening is a great way to interact with people in your neighborhood by sharing ideas and plants. Share your experience and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

quotation mark right Gardening is Self-Care: The Health Benefits of Gardening
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