Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Organic Controls for Pests and Diseases
Organic Pest & Disease Control, a Taylor's Weekend Gardening Guide, by Barbara Ellis (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997; $12.95), covers just about any problems that might arise, including weeds, insects, diseases, and animal pests. It's easy to find one or more organic solutions for each problem. I like to have books like this on hand so I can identify what I'm looking at. For example, there are illustrations of mildew, nitrogen deficiency, peach leaf curl, and other common problems that gardeners face every day.
Clever Gardening Technique
I love to grow new plants from leaf cuttings. Any plant with prominent veins can be propagated using this method. African violets, begonias, and many succulents are perfect for this method of propagation.
Select a healthy medium-sized leaf, and cut it off (including the petiole, the leaf stem) with a sharp knife. Make two or three slits on the veins on the underside of the leaf, then dust the cuts with rooting hormone. Lay the prepared cutting in a pot filled with damp, fresh potting soil. Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag (to retain moisture and heat, like a miniature greenhouse), and close the top of the bag with a rubber band. Set the prepared cutting in a warm location with filtered sun. You should begin to see growth in four to six weeks. Little leaves will pop out all along the leaf veins.