One of the biggest problems an organic gardener has to face is pests because an unchecked infestation can wreck a garden. If you don’t have any organic pest control in place, you could have a whole row of vegetables wiped out quickly.
It’s important to try preventative methods instead of waiting until after the fact. You can accomplish this by spraying your plants with homemade solutions that deter many common garden pests.
There are many organic pest control solutions available on the market, but you can easily make your own. Red peppers and garlic “tea”, for example, is a simple, yet highly effective solution.
Organic Pest Control: Red Peppers and Garlic Tea
Things you’ll need:
- A clean spray bottle
- Pure organic soap like Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap for example
- Pure water, although you can also use tap water as long as it’s not hard water.
- Ground red pepper
- Mix 5 tablespoons of the pure organic soap with a gallon of the water.
- Add a teaspoon of crushed or chopped garlic and a teaspoon of ground red pepper to the water/soap mixture.
For a smaller amount, use 1 tablespoon of soap with 1 quart of water.
Working with your Natural Environment
It’s a good idea to plant local native plant species in your garden. These local plants have a natural immunity to a wide variety of diseases in your area. Many of these plants are also resistant to the local pests, so that’s also really helpful. To find garden plants and vegetables local to your area, give your local plant nursery a visit or phone call and they should be able to assist you.
In organic gardening, planning ahead is important. You could avoid the worst part of the insect season if you plant early enough. Insects have a small window of time when they are active and feasting, so early planting can allow you to harvest before any major damage.
Additionally, putting a little time into attracting natural insect predators to your garden like birds, praying mantises, ladybugs, ground beetles and toads, can be highly effective. Planting some herbs like mint and rosemary can help attract many helpful bugs to your garden.
Closely monitor your plants so that you’ll be able to control any issues that might occur. For example, if you see a hornworm on your tomato plants, remove it as soon as possible. You could also take the additional step by drowning the bug in soapy water. By keeping a close eye on your garden, you’ll be able to manage and stop any problems before they get out of hand.
If you notice a problem with one pest in particular and are unable to identify it, take a few pictures of it. Once you have pictures, search the internet to see if you can find what it is. If that fails, take the pictures to a library, plant nursery, or a local university’s department of entomology and ask for help identifying it.
After they’ve helped you to identify the pest, ask them for some advice on how to control it organically.
Another option is to install protective netting over your plants. The problem with this solution is that it can prevent some helpful insects from reaching your plants. I would recommend only using the netting solution as a last resort.
Don’t lose hope if you lose a crop of vegetables to insects. A lot of organic gardeners go through this, from beginners to seasoned veterans, so don’t feel bad. Although, it can be frustrating and more work, the benefits of organic gardening make it so worth it. You and your family will have better tasting food, healthier food, and it’ll all be beneficial for the environment. Just make sure you’re armed with effective organic pest control solutions to protect your hard work.
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