One of the many challenges in organic gardening is pest control. Unlike in traditional gardening where you can just buy pesticides for any kind of pests, organic gardening does not rely on synthetic pesticides for pest control. A lot of people say that making your own organic pesticide spray is cumbersome because it is so much easier to buy prepared solutions. But the safety of my food and my family’s health is more important to me. Not only this, but using natural pest control is far less expensive than buying pesticides, plus you contribute to the preservation of our planet earth.
Organic gardening has its own unique ways of pest control, one of which is by way of beneficial insects. These are the insects that eat the harmful insects and their young. You can either attract these beneficial insects to your garden or, if you are lucky, you may be able to buy them from your local agriculture supplier. There are different kinds of beneficial insects for different problems. They include:
- Ladybugs – These insects love to eat aphids, whiteflies, scales and mites. To attract them to your garden, plant flowers from the daisy family.
- Brachonoid Wasps – These insects loves to feed on the larvae of most pests. Having them in your garden will put an end to your problem with leaf-eating caterpillars. Planting carrots, parsley and celery will attract them to your garden… as long as you leave some plants to flower.
- Praying Mantis – is my personal favorite garden creature because they eat most garden pests. They are attracted to roses as well as tall grasses and shrubbery.
- Lacewings and Hover-flies – These insects are attracted to composite flowers such as asters and golden rods. They love to eat aphids.
Another way of pest control for organic gardens is to make your own homemade remedies. They usually use ingredients we can usually find in our kitchens. Aside from being safe, homemade pest control is economical and effective. Here are some simple mixtures that you can easily follow:
- For fungal disease, try a quart of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Mix well and spray onto the affected areas. Spray every few days until you no longer see the symptoms.
- For soft-bodied pests, try a tablespoon of canola oil, 3 or 4 drops of Ivory soap, and a quart of water. Put in a spray bottle and shake vigorously before spraying to ensure a homogenous mixture. The trick is to spray from below upward so that the pests on the underside of the leaves will be targeted.
It is good to remember that sprays can kill not only harmful insects but also the beneficial ones. When you spray, make sure to spray only on the affected areas. Sprays are best applied early in the morning or at dusk.
But then, the most effective pest control for me is prevention. “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure “is also true in organic gardening. To prevent harmful insects from invading your garden in the first place, keep these things in mind:
- Keep your soil healthy. Natural composting is not only good for your plants’ roots; it is also a kind of natural pest control.
- A weak plant attracts predators so pull it out immediately and dispose of it appropriately away from your garden.
- Keep your surroundings clean. Weeds and debris encouraged harmful insects to breed.
- Practice crop rotation. Often, pests attack a particular plan only. After harvesting your vegetable, plant another kind of vegetable in order to confuse the insect pests.
Pest control can be a tricky business in organic gardens. But with a few simple steps, and a bit of investigation and trial and error, you will be able to work out what works for you and your garden, and get on top of those annoying bugs before they do some real damage to your garden.