You spent all that time planting and weeding your garden. The last thing you want is for it pests to eat the crops instead of your family. You deserve the yields from all that hard work! While you may have heard negative things about the impacts of pesticides on the fruits and vegetables you plant, there are safe alternatives, like organic pest control methods. Here are some details to help you figure out what direction you want to take so you have more control.
Is Organic Pest Control Effective?
In one word–yes! Both synthetic and organic pest control are effective, when carried out correctly, but synthetic options place chemicals in your garden and onto your plants. Those chemicals end up on your bounty and you have to be more careful about washing herbs, fruits, and vegetables. As the gardener, you get to decide which pest management method you use.
You want healthy plants and those only come from gardens without a pest problem, and one without too many chemicals. Get ahead of both and consider organic pest control as the best defense against harmful pests on young plants.
Reasons to Go Organic
Before you have pest-infested plants that are too far gone to come back, prevent the pests from taking over in the first place. Since you have options around pest management, choose which direction to take. Should you use synthetics or organic ideas? Here are a few reasons to go with organic pest control:
People are doing plenty to harm the environment by driving, using electricity, and so on. When you use organic pest control instead of chemical sprays, it’s safer for the environment. You aren’t placing harmful chemicals into the soil where it could harm animals. The chemicals can also get into soil runoff and end up in water supplies. Organic pest control options are much better for healthy soil and the environment all the way around.
Do synthetic pesticides work? Of course, but long-term, you get heightened results from organic pest control alternatives. The right organic combinations are effective for longer periods of time than chemicals. This pest management outlet allows you to avoid applying and re-applying like you would with regular chemicals. It saves you time and has a better outcome.
Just as is true with humans and medication, pests tolerate things with exposure and time. Certain chemical sprays and pesticides work at first, but can lose their effectiveness over time. Pests that grow resistance to your pesticides pass it on to the next generation and soon, that pest will rule the garden. This can lead to major pest problems if you don’t shift to another pest management method. Pests are a lot less likely to become resistant to organic options.
There are some garden pests you want to ward off, but there are also beneficial insects in several different species. Your crops do the best when you rid of the pests and keep the beneficial bugs. How can you do that? Organic pest control allows you to target the pests you see (and don’t want around!) in an eco friendly way. You keep the beneficial insects and control the garden’s eco-system as a whole.
Common Garden Pests
There are many common pests that plague gardeners on a regular basis. If you want a successful garden, you need to know more than which plants like sun and how much water they need. You also have to know how to identify, and take care of, pests that impede your crops. Here are some of the most common garden pests that organic pest control can rid of for you.
These little pear-shaped green bugs are everywhere in a common garden. The problem with them is that the suck sap out of leaves, help to attract ants and encourage fungal diseases. They can pass on other diseases while they feed on the healthy plants, too. Watch for the bugs themselves, but you may also feel a stick honeydew on the bottom of plants. Plant leaves can also become yellow and wilted and you may see a black-looking fungus residue popping up.
Potato beetles do like potato plants, but they also appreciate any nightshade plant and foliage. They will stunt the growth of any healthy plant, which can take out the younger crops entirely. They look like lady bugs with black and yellow stripes. Since they multiply quickly, they become a real problem fast. Catching these pests on affected plants right away is a key to successful gardening.
Cutworms are as bad as they sound. They cut right through the stem and roots of attracting plants. Check the garden during dusk when these bugs are fully active. They look like grubs and can also be confused with Japanese beetles, which you also don’t want in the garden. You might be infested if the plant stems are chewed through and plants are shriveling up and dying.
These insects enjoy squash plants, but they also go for cantaloupe, watermelon, and cucumbers. They will lay eggs in long rows of brown underneath the leaves. If you squish one of them, they let off a foul odor, like a stink bug. They’re over half an inch long and can quickly cause harmful damage. These squash vine borers inject toxins into stems of healthy plants and the leaves of the plants turn yellow, then brown.
Flea beetles are a lot like humans in that they like all of the same things we do. They eat the foliage on your broccoli, peppers, radishes, tomatoes, and so on. They are voracious eaters that move on to lay their eggs on the vegetable roots. The larvae then eats the roots, which does your garden no good. These pests can also transmit bacteria that cause diseases in your plants. Watch for small round holes in your foliage. The beetles are small and black and jump like a flea when you catch them on the plants.
Which Beneficial Insects Do You Want To See in your Garden?
Now that you know some of the pests you want to avoid having in your garden, it’s important to understand that there are other insects that are actually beneficial. You want to work on attracting those in the early summer months while warding off the real pests. Pest control isn’t about killing everything–just the right things.
Organic pest control helps you to target pests and keep the ‘good’ insects. Which ones are good? Here are the three main categories of beneficial bugs that also help with pest management.
When you think of pollination, bees automatically come to mind. While you run the risk of a sting or two when you are in the garden, bees are unlike other ‘pests’ and benefit the plants around you. Butterflies, flies, moths, and other pollinators do as well. In fact, without these insects, the garden can’t grow. Use pest control that preserves and even encourages bees.
You want to see ladybugs, green lace wig larvae, and praying mantis insects in your garden because these won’t harm young seedlings, but they do eat bugs that cause harm to the garden. Having natural predators around is a great control method to keep the bad bugs away. Use other insects in a natural way as pest control for your property.
Parasite insects take advantage of ‘bad insects,’ but instead of eating them, they lay their eggs on or in the bad bugs and when the larvae hatches, they feed on the host and take care of their effects on your garden in that way.
What Do Organic Farmers Use to Keep the Bugs Away?
Organic farming has come a long way in recent years and farmers and gardeners have a lot more control over infestations. It’s important to recognize signs and take action fast, but it’s also vital to be pro-active about pest control. Those who use pesticides don’t generally wait until infestations break out. They spray before it occurs to prevent those outbreaks. Here are a few things organic farmers use to keep the pests away and stay on top of pest control.
Floating Row Covers
Cover delicious plants with polyester fabric so you have an insect barrier that still lets the light through to the plants. The traps come in light and heavyweight, depending on what you need, but you must secure it well around the edges or the pests will find a way in. This is an easy pest control system that works well in certain situations.
Insects often put out powerful smells to attract their mates and scientists have been able to duplicated some of those cents. Get the pheromone trap and lure the insects in and watch the pests flock. These traps usually attract male insects, so they don’t work as a full strategy. But when you see the traps filling up, you know that insect pests have moved into the garden and you can take other steps to rid of the pest before it takes over completely.
They aren’t very attractive, but they are rather effective in causing death of area insects. Hang yellow sticky traps close to desirable plants and flowers and refresh them when they get too dirty. They need to be clean and sticky to do the best job. These traps are easy to make on your own to keep the garden economical. Don’t spend a lot on pest control with this option.
This type of soap is specifically sold to help with farm and garden plants. It works well when it comes into contact with the plants as a liquid soapy water. Once it dries, it is harmless to the plants, but also to the insects. Spray this soap on pests, but keep it away from the beneficial insects you want to stick around during your pest control methods.
This spray suffocates pests, but you have to hit them directly. When you notice pests lurking, give them a spray early in the morning before the bees become active. You can take care of beetles, caterpillars, ants, slugs, aphids, and other pests.
What is a Natural Pest Killer?
Natural pest killers are items that occur naturally or are organic. They deter the pests and help you to keep them out of your garden in a simple, eco-friendly manner.
You might be surprised at how many natural pest killers you have around your home. Take stock when you are planting crops and you can dig into the cabinets later for these items when you need pest control help.
If you can’t get going in the morning without a cup or two of coffee, don’t just throw the grounds out, but rather spread them around your garden. Many pests can’t stand the smell of the coffee. It’s a natural way to keep the pests at bay without buying anything extra.
If you see aphids in the garden, take action before they invite all of their friends in, too. An easy option is to plant a banana peel under the soil near the plant stems. The peel deters bugs and add nutrients to the soil at the same time–a great pest control method.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Fruit flies are a nuisance but they also enjoy your garden too much for comfort. Pour out a bowl of apple cider vinegar and set it near the plants they enjoy after covering it with plastic and poking holes in it. They will be attracted to the vinegar and leave the plants alone. They trap themselves under the plastic and can’t get back out to do more damage.
No one wants to see the ants marching in and cornmeal is a treat ants enjoy. They’ll grab it and drag it back home to eat. The delectable treat is also something they can’t digest. It takes a few days, but it will rid of the ants and it’s a nice, safe way to eradicate the pests. If you have pets of your own that roam the garden, this pest management is not toxic to them.
Many pests don’t like strong scents and cloves have just that. Sprinkle the cloves around the plants the pests are enjoying and it can help to chase them away and deter them from returning, just what you want from your pest control.
Gardening is a hobby many people enjoy. Taking crops from your own yard gives you control over how they grow and what you place on them. Since pesticides are prevalent, there are resistant varieties of pests that still destroy plants even with those toxic chemicals in place.
Using a natural method of pest control is better for the earth, your garden, and even the vegetables and flowers you produce. Chemical pesticides do their job, but you can target the pests you have and be proactive with organic pest control methods.