In many walks, of society, many people expect nothing less than perfection. This has led to an over-reliance on insecticides and other chemicals such as sprayer stickers to prevent insect damage, as well as optimizing growth and production of plants with the use of commercial fertilizers.
As an organic grower, one needs to first realize that beauty and quality are different sorts of things than perfection. By using natural methods of pest control, you can produce plenty of beautiful crops or flowers, without relying on non-organic sprays, powders or other insecticides.
The first two lines of defense against pests are water pressure and handpicking harmful insects. A simple stroll through your garden each day will ensure that any problems are noticed and can be addressed immediately.
Pay attention to the color of leaves, stalks and flowers. Look for changes, inspect for bites or other damage. Many pests are visible only from the underside of the leaves. Nighttime is the best time to catch and remove sneaky pests (snails) from your plants. Be sure to take a flashlight!
Hand pick any visible pests from plants and remove yellowed or damaged leaves as soon as they appear. Be sure to dispose of the removed leaves outside your garden to prevent the spread of pests or disease.
A strong stream of water from your garden hose will help kill or remove many pests. Be careful not to damage the plants and direct the stream of water carefully, where pests tend to hide out- inside creases and crevices, the underside of leaves and around the flowers.
For your third line of defense, encourage beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, by planting dill, fennel, carrots and parsley. Allow these plants to bloom in order to attract ladybugs. The ladybugs will rid your garden of a variety of harmful pests. Some plants, such as carrots, don't bloom until the second year, so keep these plants in place and plant others you intend to harvest. One can purchase lady bugs and other helpful insects directly off the internet, as well as liquid garlic spray and French and African Marigold root in liquid form.
Since many pests bed underground during winter, it is best to rotate the placement of your plants each year. Not only will this discourage pests that attach a specific plant year after year, it will yield healthier plants because different plants take different nutrients from the soil. Rotating will help ensure an area is not depleted of a specific nutrient and will discourage pests who hide out in wait for next year's crop.
Another way to help prevent plant damage from insects is to plant both French and African Marigolds as a rotation crop, turn the plants in just as flowering is beginning to occur.
Many organic gardeners use insecticidal soaps. Hard water can reduce their effectiveness. The easy, natural solution is to use rainwater to mix with your insecticidal soaps. Keep a bucket or tray out to collect rain, but be sure to empty it frequently so mosquitoes don't bred in the standing water. Another option is to mix your insecticidal soaps with water from a clean stream or pond if one is accessible.
If grasshoppers are a problem in your garden, leave an area around your garden uncut and unmowed to give them an option to hide in and munch on other than your beloved plants. Conversely, if ticks are a problem for you, be sure to keep yards mowed and brush trimmed because ticks need these areas to reproduce.
For whiteflies, which attack many plants, spreading disease, puree two cloves of garlic, mix with one pint water, strain and spray on your plants. Attracting ladybugs is also effective for whitefly problems.
After harvest, remove and destroy all your remaining plants so that any looming problems won't be inherited by next year's crops.
Pest control is a natural problem in raising any plant- and as with weeds and other challenges can be kept at bay by natural means.
Has been an organic grower for over thirty year's , he works as an organic farming consultant and
organic produce marketing consultant.
Jay can be contacted through his web site.