Your little garden is doing wonderfully and you are so proud! You are enjoying how these little lives interact with all the other elements of nature and give back beauty and interest, and oxygen too. You are trippin' on how life really is a circle, and how utterly Zen a plant is, how in tune with it's surroundings, how in harmony with all of nature. Small miracles, simple, elemental lives, giving and dying.
You're getting way into this.
And then it happens - the neighbor, his dog, or his cat takes a piss - or a shit, (your neighbors might be weirder than you realize) - on your plants.
If piss or shit happens, as soon as you realize it, rinse it off with the hose, and no worries. Your plants will appreciate the extra nitrogen and other elements contained in the dissolved pee and shit, but ass products just left to lay on the leaves will burn them, because ass products are made to stick like a syrup, and plants don't like that. Their leaves and other structures have little pores called stomata, which absorb water and air and nutrients, and straight up butt products act like an overdose, clog those pores, and will 'burn' the plant. This will appear as dead brown places on plants, or just plain deadass plants. Large dogs and cats and human males have evil Satanic piss that will kill anything it touches. So check your little garden every day, and if you smell or see evidence of a rude visitor, a rinse with the garden hose is all you need to fix this issue. And maybe a change of friends.
This having been mentioned, one of the best 'foods' for a hosta? Is human puke. It's moderately acid and contains broken down carbon. I am not lying, I am not saying this as a joke. It works.
Don't ask me how I know this. I just do.
If you have a party, find the guy that always pukes and party him out. Then lead him over to your Hosta bed and let him cut loose. Be kind. Prop 'em up. Hold his/her hair. Lead them away when they are finished and let them plop on the lawn or in their car with their heads turned sideways. Life is a cycle. Imagine Keith Richards if nobody had seen fit to monitor his movements early on. He'da joined the 27 club. Be mindful. Your friend has just given you, and your hostas, the gift of regurgitation. Water it in using the hose. That's a cosmic debt you owe, my friend.
Here is a good, simple, organic way to keep dogs and human males from pissing on your plants:
Find a big rock. Or take a big piece of irregular wood, or something interesting. Put this object in front of the plants, or to one side. The bolder and bigger this object is the better. I do not mean a wrecked car or an abandoned motor home, but like a big damn rock, OK? A big funky piece of wood you found. An old rototiller or a milk can? - that size.
Dogs always go for what they can piss high on. They'll aim for the tall rock or old milk can or what have you.
Human males, like dogs, always have to piss on something for whatever reason. Pissing on your giant rusty anchor or big lump of rose quartz will tickle their fancy no end. It's a true fact and it works. Make sure to rinse this object occasionally, and your plants will thank you. I'm not fucking with you. This is the shit and it works like a charm.
If your problem is with a human female squatting in your little garden plot to pass whatever falls out her hine, you are way into Oh My God Fucked Upville. Call the police. Get out your phone and take a movie so you can show it to the police when they get there so they won't think you're nuts.
Or nail her with a bb gun. No I am not kidding.
I've had a straaaaaaaaaange life, kids.
Anyway, lets say your neighborhood is free of women who piss and shit on plants, and problem dogs and cats and men.
Now look at what you have helped to create! You have grown your first little garden bed and it looks great! You even have an upright object of interest to one side, and all your friends will say "That's really nice!" And it will be nice! You will take care of a small area that will teach you about what happens to plants and how they grow and the effects of the weather, insects, and other wildlife on them.
Now live with this for a year. Watch what happens to the plants. How they grow. How the blossoms wither. How new ones form, and where. Watch how leaves form and what eats them - because they will get chewed on. A few holes is fine. A whole section ate down to the stem, though, is the work of snails or slugs, or even rabbits or baby iguanas if you live in Florida!
In the morning, glance over your little plant bed. Look around the base of your plants and quick just lift up and look underneath the leaves. If you find slugs or any of the aforementioned, huck them into the street or into your neighbors yard. Search for little white, pearly looking clusters of balls the size of beads, usually under rocks or pieces of rotted wood. These are slug/snail eggs. SMASH THEM MERCILESSLY.
If you find little tiny grey slugs that look kind of boogery, these are not baby slugs. Don't cry for them, Argentina. These are a separate breed of slug that loooooove eating pathways in leaves - particularly iris leaves - and will turn them from lovely blue-green fan-blades of structure and color into freaky alien shapes, and kill them.
The rule of thumb is: If you find a slug or a snail, no matter how cute it is, kill it or throw it into your neighbors yard, and smash the eggs.
Slugs are long gross spotty or orangey brown wrinkly things, like alien scrotums with antennae. Here in the PNW we also have a variety called the Banana Slug, which is as big as a bananna, is yellow with irregular black and brown spots, and altogether looks like a goddamn ambulatory rotten banana. With antennae
How to take care of slugs? Take a pair of garden shears, or dedicated Slug Scissors, and cut them in twain. Snap. Ooooog. Instant death. Then toe them out into the yard, because...
GROSS GARDENING FACT!
Live slugs will mate with dead slugs, successfully, because dead slugs don't know they're dead. Slugs are hermaphroditic. Until they dry out, those parts still work. I've cut a slug in two, and seen the head half eating a leaf while it's nether part lay several feet away.
How to tell the difference between a slug and a snail:
Snails have a shell on top and an oogy part out front, with antennae, and another, out back, with a butthole. Their shell is rather a pretty, round, yellow and brown striped shell.
Ignore the glamour. Here in the 4th Corner they will TAKE OVER FAST. You take these little fuckers and huck them right out into the street. Stomp them if you can make yourself. Smash them with a rock. Or if you're the merciful type, give every single one a flying lesson. Or, if you're super murderous, drop them into a gallon bottle with about a 1/4 cut of bleach in it. Drop the snail or slug in, fasten the lid, and shake it around every so often. When it gets too thick to shake, dump it in the road or in the middle of the driveway, anyplace that the bleach won't cause issues. If you have a neighbor you don't like, a nocturnal baptism of their front stoop will provide a satisfying sense of justice having been done.
Slugs are gross. Snails are a plague. They reproduce like a motherfucker and eat anything that won't eat them.
DESTRUCTION OF THE GARDEN BED.
If you come out one morning and your plants are all dug up and thrown all over the place, you have four suspects, in order of likelihood -
1. Cats. Cats love nice loose soil in garden beds. They'd rather shit there than in a box, and they get all exuberant and roll around and dig and kick and shit and generally make a big deal out of it.
Solution to cats: not for the PETA members of my audience - turn away, faint hearts.
My mother used to keep a slingshot and a can of small round rocks next to the door. If she saw a cat in the garden, she'd nail it, or get close enough to it that it that the cat would freak out and run. Don't be sick and aim for their heads; just be disciplinarian. Got a persistent kitty? Aim for it's side. This does not kill the cat, but it does make it freak out. My mom got to be a crack shot. So accurate, in fact, that as soon as that cat provided her with a.... *ahem*... target - zang! She'd laugh until tears ran down her face. She was kind of a bitch. But tell you what; we would never see that cat again. Hello Kitty? Say Goodbye, Kitty, ya nasty little fuck. Go shit in your own yard.
Suspect 2. Dogs
A photoelectrically activated sprinkler system with a sudden blare of light will send those hounds running.
Similarly Humans. For whatever reason. A sudden blast of cold water will send them coursing away into the night.
Suspect 3. Moles, Voles, Rats
Snap traps baited with peanut butter and bacon grease all mushed together into the little bait platen.
"Body of Christ?"
Suspect 4: People.
People will do all kinds of dumbass stuff. Digging up your garden and flinging it all over the place is just one stitch in the crazy quilt. With humans, you need a light activated monitor and a freaky siren. I mean seriously. If some nutty fucker is scrabbling around flinging your Wave Petunias or your German Iris, they need a dose of psychological hindbrain terror to deter them. Lights, sound, Gary Numan, all in a sudden burst will send them dashing out into the nearest freeway. "BBBrrrrrrmmmmmmmSMACK!budump, budump, badump, dump, dump, sklishhhhhh.
This is the biggest boondoggle since Violet Wave Therapy. Neem oil has no hidden miracle properties. It works, yes, but only because IT IS AN OIL. You can take food grade vegetable oil - the kind you cook with! - and it will do the same job cheaper and less stinkier than Neem will. Pisses me off. Fuckin' neem oil.
The active ingredients in this are fat-based soap and rotenone. The soap sticks it on. The rotenone does the killing. Is this worth 12.00 dollars a bottle? No it is motherfucking not. You can make your own bug killah and it will work better. This is a home remedy that actually works, and my grandmother showed me how to make it, and it you want to dispute it then you take it up with her, and she will give you a crack across the shins with her cane because she took no shit alive and probably doesn't dead, either.
Go to the large department store. They will have a product in the skin care/soap aisle called Pure Castille Soap. Grate, or chunk up half a bar of Castille soap into a half gallon of water and simmer it, while stirring occasionally. Get all the soap pieces melted.
Castille Soap is weird stuff. Sometimes this will set up like a gelatin. Sometimes it will stay liquid. It is a mystery. But what you do, is you put it in a spray bottle (dilute it with water if you have go so it will be sprayable) and start hitting those aphids and japanese beetles and what have you like the raging fist of Thor. Just this soap solution sprayed on the aphids will kill their aphidy asses dead. In difficult spots, just put on a glove and hold the afflicted plant part steady while you spray it, and the aphids will just drop off it. Castille soap makes a waxy coating that suffocates the bugs, and doesn't hurt anything else. At all. Another bug could come along and eat that dead aphid and it would be fine. Castille Soap is the shiznit of all home gardening remedies. It works, and it's cheaper than shit! I also have used Neutrogena to the same effect, but Neutrogena costs 5 bucks a bar and you can get ten bars of Castille for five bucks here - you do the math. I was an English major.
People that say 'Oh, I just take the hose and blow all those aphids all off' are doofuses. Those things will return. And you've just blown them all over your other plants, too, so you've made the situation worse! And now that you've overwatered your plant, it will put out more soft tissue for the aphids to vampirize, and they will enthusiasticallly return in layers of 3. Yes. ACTUAL LAYERS OF THREE APHIDS SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF YOUR PLANTS.
Don't do this.
Some aphids fly. Some are placed by ants (look it up. It's interesting.) Either one will succumb to Castille soap, and the ants will get discouraged and leave, because of the waxy feel on their little anty feet.
Another home remedy that works vs. another one that doesn't. Early in the spring, take a half a teaspoon of some wettable sulphur, dilute it in water according to the directions, put it in a spray bottle and top it up with a little Castille soap mix. Take and hit the lower stems, old cut surfaces and bud unions of your roses with this, and also the lower stems of your clematis. First, though, rake out all the dead leaves and shit from under these plants and hit the surface of the soil all around the drip line, too. Yes. This will go a long way in preventing your roses from getting fungus diseases and preventing Clematis Wilt. I've done it, it works. Like magic. LIKE MAGIC.
You can buy any number of antifungal products and drenches and what have you, and spend a good chunk of change on them too, and they may or may not work, or work about half-ass. This simple mixture works 99% of the time. Your roses will come up mostly clean,- which is the best you can expect from any rose, no matter how pampered, so don't buy in to the bullshit - and your clematis will flourish.
Plain vegetable oil
Food grade vegetable oil, applied with a brush to the trunk and lower limbs of a tree in March on a dry day will prevent that tree from getting black mildew and scale insects. And probably other things too, but that's what I was dealing with. Works like a charm. It can also be applied directly to the scale insect,which smothers the little bastard and kills it. Ha.
Look these up. They're creepy as hell. If you have these things, which are spread by scroungy birds feet, be a good neighbor and cut them out of your tree as soon as you spot them. They spread like wildfire and will kill a healthy tree in one season. They will come back too, so keep checking the canopies of your broad leaved trees. After you cut their nests down, either smash the nests or set them on fire.
My dad was of the fire persuasion.
Tent caterpillers smell disturbingly like french fries as they cook and make a squeaking sound as well. Their brethren will book ass as fast as their little caterpillar legs will take them from the burn site, which one would expect, so our jobs as kids was to stomp all the escapees.
Good times, folks. Good times.
And now comes the ultimate in home remedies, home made, 100% organic, good for the environment, and will stop - not kill, but stop - powdery mildew in it's tracks; as well as serve as a foliar or root-zone fertilizer. What is this miracle substance? What is this secret of the ages?
Diluted Human Urine.
I use it in a watering can with a rose sprinkler at a dilution of one part whiz to 5-7 parts water. The older the whiz is, the better. No I don't know why. As soon as you see powdery mildew, which will look like little dots of white on the leaves of a plant, sprinkle this mixture on it and it will stop it dead in it's tracks, and the plant will be able to continue to photosynthesize, plus get a little fertilizer in the bargain.
This is what you need to be using to water your seedlings with. No more mildew, no more stem rot. Happy, happy seedlings.
This is a miracle on roses. An absolute miracle.
It is also good on perennial asters and Bergamot. Bergamot with a beginning case of powdery mildew responds like Venus Arising From The Sea in response to a comprehensive sprinkling of diluted human pee, which sounds so dirty, right? But it absolutely arrests the development of the mildew.
Honeysuckle will bless you.
Tomato leaves, curcurbit leaves - boom, fungus stopped. The leaf won't look any prettier, and will eventually yellow and get crackly, but until then it will still have functioning surfaces that will work for the good of the organism. It is somewhat less effective on clematis, although it definitely slows the progress of powdery mildew.
In the hot, windless summer, I give all my roses a weekly feed with this mixture on the leaves and at the root (In the early, cool morning), and my roses are taking over the world, clean leaved and repeat blossoming. I had leaves and blossoms when the rest of the roses in Whatcom County give way to the summer heat.
Concerning powdery mildew:
It happens. All it takes is one still, humid, warm day and its all over the place, particularly on cucurbitae, tomatoes, and other garden vegetables because powdery mildew hates the human race.
Now you need to nut up here. Diluted human whiz isn't the worst thing you've ever smelled, and assuming it's yours, don't be all squicky. It came out of you. If you get a little on you, you'll live. It will not make your garden stinky. At all. It will not make your vegetables taste like pee, or your roses smell like pee. But filling that watering can will be an adventure in pork-scented armpit sweat ammonia. And it will be foamy, too. That is a good sign. It means that your whiz will stick. Fill the watering can slowly, all the way to the top, and then go and bless the plant in question with your liquid spritz. I am not even kidding. I've put this mixture into spray bottles, and, standing in such a way that the breeze will NOT blow it back on me, sprinkled large vines and tall plants with this, and it simply arrests the progression of the fungus at the 'dots of fluffy white' stage. Every. Single. Time.
I'll be honest with you here. I take a number of prescribed psychoactive substances to control ADHD, OCD, PTSD and clinical depression. I like to think that my plants are 35% saner and less likely to steal your car than other plants.
There is no downside.