I will be honest, I’m doing gardening for a while now, and I have never seen a garden free from pests. This is something which awaits you sooner or later, so prepare in time. Among other things, these 15 organic pest control tips you have to know have a purpose of teaching you how to tackle the problem of insects or rodents which will attempt (and more than often succeed) in ruining both your day and your garden.
Note that despite pests were ruining my garden, I have never taken into consideration chemical solutions. First of all, I think that as a human race, we are already changing the face of the Earth too much, and second, I realize that this is nothing personal; all of these bugs, worms, and birds are merely doing what is in their nature. I have given my best to stay as humane as possible.
Splitting Into Groups
Because of easier transparency, I have divided all of those ways into three groups. The first one represents the mechanical ways of dealing with pests. More than often, this includes manual work and some creativity. The second underlines the usage of nature itself against pests, while the third focuses on lethal methods. As I said, this is my least favorite way of dealing with pests, but sometimes it has to be done.
1. Removing Eggs
The first sign that you have (or going to have) a pest problem is the presence of eggs. Most of them are easy to spot, while others are hidden underground. Some of them are in fact beautiful. The classic example of this approach is what to do with Colorado potato beetles.
The eggs these striped little guys are laying are orange in color and are usually found underneath the leave of the potato plant. If you are nauseous, grab a pair of gloves, and start squishing them. This will thin out the future generation of bugs.
A whole different story is with flies and cabbage worms. They are laying their eggs in the soil around the plant, are hard to notice. I had trouble with the latter while growing cabbage, and I had to remove the top layer of the soil, pour some wood ash and cover it again. It is the right approach for any similar critters.
2. Covering The Ground
One of the ways to prevent the adult insects from laying eggs into the ground is the usage of mechanical covers. This comes down to using plastic covers which are spread where the plants should be sowed, and after that holes are poked for the plant to grow.
This way I have managed to put a barrier between an insect and its’ hatching space. Although there might be wrinkles in nylon, and some of the flies might penetrate the defense, it will prevent the majority of others to spread.
3. Covering The Plant
A similar system is used when it comes to defense against adult insects. This is also a useful approach when it comes to protecting the plants from intense sunlight, so the benefit is twofold.
I have noticed that covering cabbages with mesh gives fantastic results. Now, the idea was applied to other sensitive plants such as lettuce, tomatoes, and strawberries. The latter are especially prone to wasps and bees because those are attracted to sugar, and the tiniest hole in the fruit will attract a whole throng of these flying menaces.
All that I did was to buy a few feet of tiny-holed mesh and to cover the plants. To make things more secure, I have anchored parts at the ground with several stones. These are also effective against snails.
4. Removing Plants
Another efficient way to reduce the number of pests is to cut off their feeding material. A lot of you have probably found a rotten tomato or onion in their garden. Although this is not something to panic about, it represents an excellent feasting opportunity.
Insects will be attracted by these rotting plants and vegetables, and the abundance of those will attract more birds such as crows or pigeons.
Not all of them eat just insects. Magpies, for example, are intelligent enough to figure that there are easier ways to feed than to chase bugs around. Therefore, removing any spoiled fruit right away can prevent this spiral to get out of control.
5. Scarecrows (In A Way)
Speaking of birds, sometimes they can be a real menace. They will wreak havoc on your garden without pardoning, so the first thing you should do is to build a scarecrow. Although it is a bit outdated method, there is no reason not to give it a go.
I have tried several other methods, so I took some old CDs and pieces of broken mirror and hang them on tree branches.
After a few days, I have noticed that pigeons are not so common and that others kept their distance a bit more. It is essential, however, to hang them on a thread (CDs and DVDs are most convenient for this) so that the wind can swing and turn them around. This will keep feathered pests at bay.
Nature Will Take Care of It
1. Falcons To The Rescue
This is a method I saw on the TV; namely, stadiums are hiring professional falconers to keep the pigeons away. The point is that the falconer has a long rope with a piece of cloth at the end. After releasing the falcon, he starts to make circles with this string, until he gets falcon’s attention. The bird then swoops down, thinking that it attacks a dove or pigeon. His attacking dive is crucial since all other birds will think of the area as falcon’s hunting ground. Therefore, they will keep their distance.
Although this is an unusual method, you can try and apply it, in case that there is a falconer in your town. The bird gets its exercise, you get one unforgettable experience, no pest birds are harmed, and your garden is safe. It is a win-win situation for all.
2. Enter Predators (Not Sandman)
Using natural enemies is not a new concept to humans. For centuries we have grown cats to keep mice out of the granary, and something similar can be done in your garden, only with fewer cats and mice, and more with ladybugs and mites and aphids.
The matter is straightforward. There are pests on my plants, so I need a “cavalry” as I called them in my article about onions. Both ladybugs and lacewings are effective in eradicating both larvae and adult aphids.
In return, they do not do any damage to your plants. The harder thing is to obtain them. There are several stores which are selling them, but in case that you have a forest or a meadow behind your house, a short walk might result in several caught. All it is left is to put them on affected plants, and you are good to go.
In case that you don’t feel like chasing bugs with a net, try planting marigolds in your garden, those should attract them.
3. Best Buddies
Not all plants can be affected by pests, and this is my ace in the hole. Scattering them throughout the garden kept aphids far from my precious plants.
The first line of defense is chili peppers. Its fruits contain capsaicin which gives its strong “kick” and hotness. This chemical is acting as a repellant to various types of insects and birds. To humans, on the other hand, is an ingredient for an exotic meal. All the pests have “learned” throughout the countless generations that chili peppers are not for eating, so using them will reduce the numbers of such.
Also, pepper spray can be used for broader appliance; I even tried a mixture of pepper essence and water. It did wonders.
4. Soap For Deer (Crazy, I Know)
It does sound ridiculous, but soap repels deer! In case that you are living in rural area, far from the city, you have probably encountered a deer casually strolling through the garden, and eating what he likes. To chase it away can be a problem since males can get pretty violent especially during mating season.
To avert them from your cabbage, try hanging a few soaps along with the garden or at the entry point. Deer have a powerful sense of smell and can notice human 150 yards away. The smell of chemicals is unknown to them, and that is why they will keep the distance. I have hanged the soap using the rope so that rain and mist can keep it wet and emitting smell. This method also works for rabbits as well.
5. Ask Bob And Marley To Help You Out
In case that you are wondering (and I’m sure you do), Bob and Marley are two ducks I have for a while now. Since I love reggae music that is how I named them. I have noticed that they can get a stroll in between the lanes, and poke something from the plants. At first, I thought that they were eating cabbage, but no leaves were damaged.
A quick googling showed me that ducks love snails! It is one of their favorite food (similar to pizza for humans), and they are quite useful in eradicating them. So, if it happens that you have ducks, let them take a walk. No snails, no cry!
1. Soap For Washing The Bugs Away
Soft-bodied insects like hated aphids are very prone to chemicals, so a few drops of canola oil, mixed in water with a bit of soap (this is important to keep the mixture consistent) and poured into the bottle are what I have tested. I’ve put this combination into a spray bottle and thoroughly sprayed the plants.
Canola oil is lethal for mites and will exterminate them rather fast. Also, it is not harmful to humans, and there is no danger from a severe reaction.
2. Milky Spores For Japanese Beetle
This method is very ruthless if you ask me since bacteria called Paenibacillus popilliae is added to the soil, where it attacks the larvae of Japanese beetles and kills them.
The most interesting thing about this bacteria is that it attacks only grubs, and no other organisms. One treatment can keep the soil free of these pests for about 40 years. Those may be “just bugs,” but this is the last thing you should do, and the only case where it is valid is during heavy infestation.
3. Diatomaceous Earth For Everything With Exoskeleton
Although this is not a home-made recipe, Diatomaceous earth is mineral, and as such can be treated as more natural rather than “organic.” This chalk-like powder is spread through and around the plants. Then, it begins to “work.”
The unique feature of this mineral is that it absorbs the lipids from exoskeletons of bugs, and kills them by thirsting them to death, it is useful since it is hard for a bug to shrug it off, but still, if you ask me, it is a lousy way to go.
4. Salting The Snails
Another inhumane method if I’m asked, putting salt on snail will kill it with no doubt. The salt will make the water from their bodies evaporate, and that is what kills them. But, if you feel sorry for these little guys as I do, try putting a plank in between the lines in the garden.
Snails tend to crawl under such spots so that you can carry them elsewhere. In this way, no harm is done, and I didn’t have a troubling conscious for killing an animal, just because it wants to live.
5. Baking Soda For Fungi
Certain diseases are caused by a vast plethora of fungi. Apparent signs are affected areas with a change in color and sometimes lousy smell. Since these little barbarians are quite persistent, several rounds will be required.
To make a solution, mix a few tablespoons of regular baking soda with water, pour it into a spray bottle, and soak the affected areas thoroughly. The process must be repeated after a few days until the problem is solved, and depending on the degree of infection might even take weeks.
So, 15 organic pest control tips you have to know are here. All it is left is to see in which situation you are, and what are further steps to take. Keep in mind that some methods have to be lethal, but there is no need to prolong the torture of these small critters, no matter how nasty they may seem.
As always, all of your suggestions are more than welcome in the comment section below.