When considering pest control on the garden, some people immediately run to the garden center and pick up chemicals to get rid of them. Not so in organic gardening. There are other ways of containing, maintaining and preventing pests that do not involve unwanted chemicals and you can do it right in your own yard.
Organic is all about creating an ecosystem and insects are a part of that ecosystem. The garden needs bees and even some harmful insects to stay healthy. These insects feed the birds that control insect overpopulation. Nature is a delicate cycle and if you break that cycle, your garden might not grow well.
Prevention of pests overcoming the garden is the main aim of organic gardening. Just keeping your plants healthy will keep pests away. How do you do that? There are many ways.
● Keep your soil healthy – Use compost in your soil to infuse it with nutrients. Only use organic fertilizers like compost tea you make yourself by steeping compost in water for a few days and spraying it on your plants and soil. This brings healthy bacteria to the garden.
● Use companion plants – Companion plants are those that grow together well and may even keep predatory bugs away. Garlic gets rid of aphids on roses and basil keeps whitefly and other insects from tomatoes. Basil also enhances the flavor of tomatoes.
● Mulch – mulch does retain moisture in the soil and doesn’t let it or the microbes in the soil dry out. A new thing in organic gardening is silver reflective mulch. This mulch is thin silver sheets laid over the ground and around plants that scares birds and insects that would harm plants away and it also creates light on the underside of leaves to get rid of those insects that would hide there normally in the dark.
Getting Rid of Invasions!
Should preventative measures fail, there are some organic methods of ridding your plants of the invasive insects. This would include hand picking them off the plants into soapy water, but if you would rather not perform this time consuming task, here are some other things you can do organically:
● Use Neem Oil – Neem oil comes from the seed of a tree and it repels ants, beetles, caterpillars, flies, mealy bugs, nematodes, snails and even termites and cockroaches. It also keeps mildew and fungus away. Get Neem oil at a garden center and apply using the directions.
● Garlic Spray – Garlic tends to keep people away from people and it also keeps invasive pests away. Just soak a head of fresh minced garlic in 1 cup vegetable oil for a few weeks in a mason jar. When you are ready to use it, strain out the garlic and put the oil in a spray bottle with water at 4 parts water to 1 part oil. Spray the leaves of your plants or vegetables along with stems and apply after every rain. The oil will help the spray stick to the leaves.
● Release of Beneficial Insects – Ladybugs, lacewings, predatory wasps and several other insects will take care of harmful pests in the garden. You can actually buy beneficial insects and let them loose in your garden. Do some research to make sure you are creating a good environment for these beneficial insects first, or they will fly away and your money will be wasted. They like dill, cilantro, fennel, geraniums, cosmos and some other flowers. Wait until you have an infestation of harmful insects before purchasing the beneficial ones. They won’t stick around if there isn’t anything for them to eat in the first place.
● Salt your garden – Snails literally melt when they come in contact with salt. Be careful of how much salt you shake on your garden because it can cause the soil to become fowl.
● Give your garden some beer – placing beer in shallow containers like jar lids will cause snails to crawl in to get more and they will drown in the beer.
● Insecticidal Soap or oil – get these organic items at a garden center and spray on the plants affected by insects. The soap and oil suffocates the insects. You have to spray continually especially after rain.
If this is your first time organic gardening, and you have used chemicals prior to this, you may have to wait awhile for your garden to balance itself out. You may not have a good crop the first year, but the second year you will see an increase in health and decrease in insects in your garden.