Phil Ryan – Gardening Without Sprays

Phil Ryan’s Approach to Gardening Without Sprays

Over the past weeks members of the Healthy Environment Group (HEG) have been pro active on the search for alternatives to using herbicides and pesticides. Three members visited a bio-dynamic dairy farm, one member visited a home gardener with a very impressive vegetable patch all grown pesticide and herbicide free and a Peter Andrews workshop was attended by another HEG member.

All members were so inspired by their practical research and their own beliefs were reinforced. There is an alternative to herbicides and pesticides; it’s so much more cost effective and so much kinder to our health and our planet.

Our first article on alternatives to herbicides and pesticides was written by Monique Davies (HEG member) who visited a successful gardener by the name of Phil Ryan.  What an inspiration and honour to visit his humble acre with life growing vegetables and fruits.  His soil texture was amazing due to his compost filled with an array of nutritious ingredients. Phil spends his time observing his garden and builds barriers to guard against pests; he even has a few recipes up his sleeve to spray on foliage which he experiments without needing to use harmful chemicals.  

 How does Phil think of weeds?  “As those plants, that have earned a bad name and for many reasons have run wild and are now classed as weeds”.  He adds “controlling weeds in the home environment requires first and foremost being observant.  Don’t let weeds go to seed which can happen very quickly after flowering.  If you don’t have the time to dig them out then make the time to cut off the seed heads, bag and bin them, this will stop the problem in the short term.  After the rain is the easiest time to do weeding.  Recycle the weeds into a trench some 30cm deep where they will rot down and feed your garden worms. Once you have cleared an area you must cover it ASAP to stop the sunlight reaching the soil, No sunlight, No weeds”.

How much time does it take to keep weeds under control? “It’s all to do with the life cycle of plants and seasons.  Weeds are mostly dormant in the winter months and easy to control, so we get a bit slack, then summer arrives and before we know it, the weeds have run wild.  This will not happen if we have been pro-active and prepared a plan to control them.  By spending a little time on a weekly basis observing what is happening in your garden and taking action before it becomes a major problem. It is easy to deal with a few weeds rather than spending money on all sorts of toxic chemicals”.  “The Chinese call this practice Shadowing your plants and they have been doing it for centuries with great success.

Phil uses strategies such as: 

·         Weed mats, newspaper, cardboard, black plastic, so future weed areas do not have sunlight.

·         Vinegar brushed onto the weed he is having trouble with, after a few coats it soon dies off.

·         Molasses and Water mixed and sprayed onto foliage soon stops a variety of pests, reapply regularly.

·         Phil can be found at the Ferny Grove Market, once a month on each 2nd Sunday in a month.  He sells his own garden products and he is very knowledgeable to speak with.

Keep an eye out for HEG’s next article which is based on Peter Andrew’s methods of Natural Sequence Farming.

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