Any gardener knows that pests are a problem in every garden. Keeping your fruits and vegetables bug-free using only natural elements can be hard. Organic gardeners and farmers have experimented for years in an effort to solve this dilemma. Here are just a few of the possibilities that might assist you in your home garden.
Things You'll Need
- German chamomile flowers
- Diatomaceous Earth
- Ivory dish soap
- Baking soda
- Row cover
- Various seeds and plants
Before attempting to rid your garden of pests, consider whether there are natural alternatives. Most pests that will infect your plants have natural predators. The pest shows up and soon after the predator will come, and the circle of life continues. If after a few days, there is no noticeable decline in the pest population, you can move on to other considerations.
Row covers are a good resource for pest control. Made of lightweight material that allows sun and rain to go through, they are draped over the garden in spring. The spun material resembles a tule, and needs to be anchored to the ground in some way.
Use diatomaceous earth, a powdery natural substance that contains microscopic razor sharp edges. Able to be spread, sprayed, dusted or "poofed" (I use an old turkey baster to shoot a puff of earth onto plants), the sharp edges cut into the insect's body, causing it to dry out. Great against ants, aphids and beetles, it will not harm birds, earthworms or other animals.
Companion planting is a great way to cause the plants you grow to protect each other. The "3 sisters" planting is one example, where a gardener to plant corn, squash and pole beans all in the same area. The corn grows tall, providing support for the beans and shade for the squash, while the beans provide extra nitrogen and the squash protects the ground from excess water evaporation. The same theory can be applied to overcoming garden pests. Plant onion sets and sage among your tomato plants to prevent beetles, bugs and tomato hornworm. Spearmint planted in the paths of your garden, not only gives off an incredible fragrance when walked on, but prevents ants from attacking.
Adding flowers to your garden not only adds beauty, fragrance and tends to attract the good insects needed, but also can assist in preventing the bad. Sweet alyssum, for example, is a low-growing annual that has a honey sweet scent that attracts bees and hoverflies. Hoverflies are a beneficial insect, who's larvae feed on aphids. Planting marigolds, specifically the tall French Golden Marigold, among your squash plants prevents squash bugs, root nematodes, white flies and mosquitoes.
Even herbs have their place as garden pest protectors. Spearmint, basil, garlic, mint, cloves, and sage all have insects that flee before them. From ants to Japanese beetles, planting herbs throughout your garden will not only provide you with fresh seasonings for your table, but fragrant effects in the garden.
When all else fails, there are common household items that can be used to treat for pests in the garden. Two tablespoons of cayenne pepper mixed with a few drops of Ivory soap and a quart of water then allowed to sit overnight creates a fine spray treatment for mites and other insects. (Be sure to shake frequently during application) Mixing one tablespoon of cooking oil, two tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water also works well. Dried German Chamomile flowers, available from most health food stores, can be added to water and boiled down, making a natural insecticide that can be sprayed directly onto any plant in your garden.
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