GardenRx focuses on the methods, tools and philosophy necessary to build and maintain gardens, lawns and plants naturally. The objective is to offer gardeners a variety of easy solutions, frequently using common household items, to solve their lawn and garden problems.
Host Loren Nancarrow, a twenty-year broadcast veteran and Emmy award-winning television journalist and author, will introduce gardeners to the reality of why it is important to garden using natural remedies. Working with nature is actually much easier on gardeners than working against nature. By working with nature, we build healthy soil so that lawns and plants and gardens become stronger and resistant to pests and diseases, naturally.
Learn an all-natural program for lawn, gardens and plants, learn easy remedies for garden and lawn diseases, get answers to the most common questions from gardeners, learn easy pest control solutions that aren’t toxic and homemade recipes that are best for fertilizing your yards, gardens and house plants.
INTERVIEW with Loren Nancarrow
for American Public Television
Q: How and why did you get involved in gardening the natural way? Is it really as easy as you say – to garden the natural way?
I came down to the kitchen one morning and the counter was covered with ants and I thought ‘man this is really a problem.’ I had little babies at the time and we just didn’t want to use poisons around them. So we came up with a recipe, tried several different things, and found that an old fashioned use of borax or boric acid was a pesticide. We eventually figured out that sweet bait attracted the ants to the boric acid. It worked beautifully. The bait was actually taken back to the nest to kill the queen and everyone else. And I just talked about it on TV as a ‘gee, guess what happened to me’ sort of thing and the response was absolutely phenomenal. So I started figuring out that if I’ve got ants on my counter, maybe other people do too. If there are aphids eating my roses, gee, I guess other people must have the same problem.
So I found that after 60 or 70 years of using chemical pesticides, there wasn’t a day that went by where there wasn’t a story in the newspaper about another animal either being endangered or some other tragedy that had been brought on as a result of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. I started studying more about using different organic methods and realized that it really is easier. Although the initial work may be harder than spraying, these methods seem to last a lot longer. This research was a slow evolution over 10 years.
Q: In your upcoming special (from APT Premium Service), what kind of gardening tips are you planning to share with public TV audiences?
The whole idea in my gardening theory is to make as little impact on the environment as possible. People who like to spend time in the garden tend to like nature and yet some traditional chemical gardening practices really harm nature. We’re also battling with nature trying to keep skunks from digging up our yards or different insect pests from eating our crops. The people that are getting rid of these animals (from the garden) tend to be the kind of people who like having those animals around. So my whole theory is to garden along with nature and to leave as little impact on it as possible. The way we do that is by using as many organic fertilizers and pesticides as possible along with really practical methods of keeping pests out of the garden. A good example of one of the big problems people have is the neighbor’s cat. Often times cats will see a beautifully cultivated garden bed and think ‘ah, a kitty litter box,’ and that’s annoying for a gardener.
If you take some of those canes when you prune your roses and lay them in a nice mat across a new garden bed, well cats have very tender paws. They aren’t going to get in there and get stuck and hurt themselves. They are smart enough to see that it’s a minefield for them. They are not going to walk through there. You can retrain either domestic animals or wild animals. After walking by that garden bed two or three times and seeing rose thorns there, the cats are going to figure out a better place.
Q: It’s April, is that too late for those just thinking about getting their yard in order? What advice do you give those just now getting started or beginners who don’t have a green-thumb but want to try gardening?
No, it’s an absolutely perfect time. Through out most of the country, temperatures are just starting to warm up a bit. The first flowers are starting to poke their heads through the soil. It’s a good time to think about the soil, because 90% of growing a beautiful garden is soil preparation. In some parts of the country, people are blessed with wonderfully rich organic material in their soil. If you spend these early spring days, double-digging, adding lots of organic matter to the soil, adding some different organic fertilizers, like alfalfa meal, fish meal and cottonseed meal, you can create a soil in a garden bed that plants literally just want to pole vault from. They are going to grow fast and so beautifully.
A lot of the garden books, including my books, will say it’s important to test the soil to learn about the PH and to learn about what is viable soil. But, what I really want people to do is to get excited about gardening. So the best thing to do is to add a few good things to the soil. Compost is easy, even if you just start with that. Dig the soil, make it real loose, add a good load of compost to it and then start with some easy things. Go out and buy some gladiola bulbs – because they make every gardener look great when they come up. They are easy to grow and are absolutely showy and terrific. Go out and buy some different kind of vines, like morning glory, that really will cover a wide area in a very short period of time. And once you have had successes, while you may not know everything about the soil PH or what nPH is and why plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, you’ve had a gardening success and that will get you looking into how you can have greater success next time.
Q: You must hear from many readers and viewers with questions and comments. Can you share some of the interesting feedback you’ve received over the years?
The most common questions I get have to do with things that are destroying the garden. Whether it’s animals that are digging up the lawn or that the skunks are stinking up the lawn. Some of the most satisfying feedback I get is when a tip is really, really simple it seems as though people don’t want to accept it at face value. Let me give you an example; anybody who grows roses has experience with aphids. Aphids get on roses and suck the life out of them – literally. There are lots of chemicals sold for it. There are lots of methods and old wives tales about what to do about aphids. But really, one of the very simplest things is to take a banana peel after you eat a banana and throw it at the base of the rose. There is something that happens in the soil, I’m not even sure I can fully explain it, but aphids will not stay on that plant. They leave immediately. I spend more time answering e-mails and phone calls from people who just cannot accept that it is that easy. Another example is vinegar on weeds. Pour straight white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a little spray bottle and as you walk down your driveway if you’ve got a few broadleaf weeds coming through the cracks in your driveway, simply mist them with vinegar and the weeds will die. Often times, people don’t want to accept that it’s that simple. Certainly, I have some recipes that are quite complicated and require multiple applications but the simple ones are the most fun.