12 Organic Pest Control Methods: Control Pests Without Using Chemicals
This article is a follow-up to my earlier article on organic gardening. I have already discussed what it means to be organic and the benefits of going organic. Now let’s dig a little deeper and actually look at some of the real options of organic pest control.
What is Organic Pest Control:
The organic way of controlling pest basically means the products and services that you are using to fight pests in your garden doesn’t include any harsh chemicals and are naturally occurring pesticides.
Most of us start with being organic in mind and start growing vegetables organically. But once they see some aphids or other insects in their garden all the initial hard work with organic manure or compost goes in vain and to prevent the pests from eating away the vegetables they take the help of many chemical pesticides.
I would request you before opting for that option, please give a try with organic pest control. And this blog will definitely help you to do so.
Why Organic Pest Control Is Good For You:
Your Garden is always full of life, a home where the door is always open for various insects and other critters as it is a source of food.
The use of chemical pesticides is no doubt very tempting. Chemical pesticides may act as quick fix short-term solution and you can actually see the effects within minutes. But guess what in the long run these kinds of chemicals do more bad than good.
I can always feel your frustration while you spot a bug in your favorite vegetables for which you have spent so many hours in the sun.
But don’t worry, many insects which are in your garden is not necessarily bad for your Garden, rather some of them might help you in controlling or reducing the impact of other potentially threatening insects. There are a lot of ways to get rid of pests in your home.
The Basics Of Organic Pest Control:
The first thing you need to understand while practicing Organic Gardening is that everything in nature is in a balanced condition.
So many garden plants have their own way of self-defense and they are a lot tougher than what we might think. They can even tolerate a little bit of damage and still produce good quality fruits and flowers.
There are two things that I want you to remember before digging into the pest control methods:
- Accept that most of the insects are not pests and most of them actually are helpful, beneficial insects to your garden. So stop trying to kill every insect you see in your garden.
- Also be very clear that an occasional bite and hole in your yield is very natural and is a sign of healthy toxin free food.
A healthy plant is the key to pest control:
A healthy plant is the first thing you should focus on to grow. Good soil (or soilless mix) produces a good quality plant. Their carbohydrate, protein and fat ratios are in proper balance.
The Soil Is Very Important:
If the soil is not proper it can result in plants that are undernourished. These types of plants usually produce more Carbohydrate (sugar) than the other two components. More sugar always attracts more insects as they thrive on sugar.
Once you take all the necessary steps to produce good and healthy quality crops now it’s time to shift your focus towards protecting those. But spraying pesticides on plants is not an option if you also want to protect the environment you live in.
In a dilemma like this organic pest controlling techniques comes as a savior to us. By following these techniques we can battle most of the destructive insects and protect our food.
Organic Pest Control Techniques:
A discussion about organic gardening cannot stop without discussing the pest and disease control methods. The followings are some of the best ways of protecting your plants from damaging pests.
If you’re a beginner, all these practices may seem daunting or even discouraging. Remember, gardening is a process, so take it one step at a time. Try these methods, and you’ll be removing pests without even toiling very hard.
The first and foremost thing to do is take a very good look at your garden soil. If the soil is good with enough nutrients and good aeration and does not hold water the soil is good for your plants.
Test your soil pH and adjust according to your plants need. If the soil condition is good, your plants will be healthier and have strong resistance towards diseases and pests.
Choose plants that are resistant to pest attacks. Generally native plants are best for that particular locality. They generally have the disease and pest resistance built in.
Whenever you have a choice, choose the resistant variety of plants for growing.
If your plant is struggling it will attract more diseases and pests. Healthy and thriving plants fight pests and diseases more efficiently. So it is vital for you to give your plants the best growing conditions.
Put them in proper locations so they receive enough sunlight. Make sure the soil is in good condition with enough nutrients and moisture.
Don’t water your plants in the evening it can increase the pest infestation in the plant. For detail guide on watering your plants you can read our article on how to water your plants properly.
Your hands and eyes are excellent tools for pest control. Use them to your advantage.
Use your eyes to spot problematic areas before they turn into catastrophic stage. Look under the leaves and stems twice every week.
Use your hands to pick off any potential threat.
Whenever possible grow cover crops prior to growing your normal crop. It will improve the soil quality and will give a valuable source for organic matters.
If you rotate cover crops and normal crops effectively, you can reduce pest population.
If you are particularly suffering from aphid infestation you can opt for reflective mulches.
Reflective mulches are good for aphid control in row crops such as tomatoes, squash, and eggplants. Additionally, it will also deter birds from devouring your crops.
It is always a great option to try companion planting. The basic concept about this is some plants if planted together can benefit each other.
One plant may benefit other plants by attracting or repelling insects, diseases or nematodes by scent, color or various secretions. Using this idea to protect your plants from different pests.
We have a detailed article on companion planting where we discussed various plant combinations and how to use companion planting to help plants.
As it says prevention is always better than cure. Build up barrier such as collars, and netting to prevent pests from attacking the plants.
Floating row covers are a fantastic way to protect your plants from invading insects, but also at the same time let sunlight, air, rain to pass through. Use them to protect seed beds, young plants.
You can also handpick some of the bugs and remove it in case they are shown on the plant.
Beneficial insects simply means any insect that help us in gardening. These include bees, butterflies and many other insects that help us keeping a leash at harmful pest.
Each harmful insect has one or more predators that feast on it. It will make your work far easier. Your job is to help these beneficial predators by giving them food, water, shelter and helpful conditions for growth. Plant flowering plants that they are attracted to.
You can buy these beneficial insects and apply them to your directly.
Don’t make use of mass killer and destroys those beneficial insects. These beneficial insects can not recover as quickly as pest species from exposure to insecticides.
To successfully use this method, remember it’s not only the beneficial insects that you have to take care of you should also take a very good care of the host plants of these insects.
There are several insects like lady-beetle, ground beetles and wasps in your garden who fed on many aphids and worms. Here is a list of some of the most common beneficial insects and the pest they control:
|Name Of The Beneficial Insect||How They Look||Pests They Control|
|Ladybugs||Small, round, colorful beetles;blue-yellow striped larva||Feed on aphids, mites, scale and many insect eggs|
|Ground Beetles||Large, shiny, dark brownbeetles||Feed on caterpillars, armyworms and cutworms|
|Predatory Mites||Very small, 8 legs,not true insects||Spider mites|
|Lacewings||Stalked egg. 1 inch long insect, lacy wings.||Feed on aphids, mites, scale insects and many insect eggs|
|Tachnid flies||Drab small fly||Parasitize many insect larvae|
|Praying Mantids||3-inch long insect withtriangular head||Many insects|
Using sticky and light traps are helpful to catch bigger insects and moths. For catching cucumber beetles stick a cotton ball soaked with clove oil into this kind of a sticky yellow trap.
Sticky white traps are great for catching flea beetles. Hang the traps a few inches above the infected plant. Once the traps lose their stickiness replace them with a new one. Some birds also fed on those insects.
One of the most under used non toxic spray is water. If you can use it effectively you can drive away many pests.
If water doesn’t solve your problem use solution of liquid soap. Soaps dissolves the protective coating of many insects.
Another household item you can use is refined cooking oil. Oil clogs the breathing pores of many pests.
For a double impact mix 1 tablespoon of liquid soap with 1 cup of oil. Then mix 3 spoons of this mixture with 1 cup of water and apply it on the plants.
Be sure to test this solution first on a few leaves to make sure it doesn’t burn them. If everything is good apply it on the plant.
You should try this option as a last resort or you might actually harm the plant itself. Toxins like neem oil are generally harmless towards humans and other domestic animals.
You can use neem oil to remove pests. It is a very well known organic mode of pest control. As a safety measure always use gloves, musks and goggles while using this kind of products.
Apart from neem oil, insecticidal soap, and different horticultural oils are also helpful. Garlic, tobacco and several other plants have a strong smell which deters pests.
These are some of the steps which are the most popular tricks in controlling pests organically.
There are so many other steps that have been in practice for different countries from ages. Please let us know if you are currently using or aware of any such technique.
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