Organic Gardening Advice
Organic Pest Control Ideas
(Natural Insect Control Ideas)
Organic Pest Control Ideas
(Natural Insect Control Ideas)
One of the biggest challenges oof organic gardening is in finding alternative natural ways to deal with pest and insect problems.
Conventional gardeners tend to resort to the use of popular chemical products (insecticides) for insect control. While, on the surface, this seems harmless enough, the effects (while often not instant, or obvious) are actually very dangerous and far reaching.
The harsh reality is: If you're using pesticides to control insects, the garden produce you and your family are eating contains a residue of that same toxic chemical that you used for killing the insects. (Yum! Would you like another serving?) Depending upon the type of chemical used, your body tissues can absorb and store the chemical.
As you're considering Organic gardening, and Organic Pest Control measures, a few things to think about...
Why use organic pest control?
- When using insecticides, a portion of the insecticide stays within the soil in your garden. Next year's garden then soaks up the chemicals into the plants as they grow and produce your fruit and vegetables. As the pest population comes out again, you dust or spray the garden again. So, more residue builds up in the soil. The cycle just keeps growing. The more you use, the greater the residue in the soil. The greater the residue in the soil, the greater the residue in your own food.
- The insecticide that doesn't stay in the soil gets washed away with the rain (and snowmelt). It washes into your local streams, river systems, and lakes where they pollute the waters. The wildlife (fish, insects that feed the fish, and birds) are affected, with such problems as weakened immune systems and birth defects. Let's not forget that many lakes are used as reservoirs for human water consumption.
If you're in a city, the insecticide likely washes into your storm sewer. Often, this water ends up at the water-treatment plant. The treatment plants processes don't always remove these chemicals. Thus they're passed back to your family for consumption once again.
- Insecticides remove more than just the harmful insects. They also eliminate "good" or beneficial insects.
- Insecticides can affect more than just insects. Many of the beautiful birds we love to watch in our gardens, are affected very harshly by these chemicals. Sometimes, it kills or sickens the bird directly. Other times, it affects their reproductive process, such that attempts at offspring aren't successful.
Organic pest control or through natural measures, is certainly more time consuming. However, it is a healthy and community focused way of gardening responsibly that will reward you, your family and your community for years to come.
Organic Pest Control Ideas:
For starters, healthy plants are not generally prone to insect infestations.
The best preventative organic measures you can take are:
1. Prepare the soil properly for your crop, considering soil and growing requirements for that specific plant. Make sure that you have the right mixture of nutrients for the plant's health, as well as the right pH level for that plant.
Note: Some soil ammendments need to be added in the fall, so don't wait to the last minute in the spring to test your soil. See Instructions on testing your soil pH level.
2. Make sure any organic matter, compost or manure is well-rotted before using.
Note: If your compost hasn't been fully decomposed, there may be insect infestations that weren't irradicated. If you purchased the compost from elsewhere (and it's not fully broken down), you may be introducing insects to your garden that weren't there before.
3. Rotate your annual crops every season to a new location in your garden. Some crops are very picky about what plants were there before them. Be sure to read-up first when planning your garden. Check our listing of vegetables, fruits, and herbs first.
Other Natural and/or Organic Pest Control Ideas:
NOTE: Always wear protective gloves, glasses, etc. when using sprays that might irritate your skin. Also, only apply sprays to your plants in the morning when air temperatures are cooler, or you may risk burning your plants.
Use this mixture to trap insects. Mix equal parts of mineral oil, liquid soap, and petroleum jelly.
Garlic Tea Spray
Effective for most plant diseases. Naturally, the sooner you catch and treat the plant disease, the easier it is to cure. To make the Garlic Tea Concentrate: Puree 2 to 3 garlic cloves. Mix with 1 qt water, and blend again. Strain out the garlic, and add 1/8 tsp liquid soap. Store in an air-tight container. To use, mix 1 part garlic tea with 10 parts water. Apply with a spray bottle.
Herb Tea Spray
This is best used as a deterrent for insects (spray it on the leaves of plants most likely to get attacked, as preventative measure). Save fragrant clippings from your herb garden (the stronger smelling they are, the better!). Fill a gallon jug or bucket with water and place the clippings in the jug to brew (like you would with sun tea). Let it brew for about a week. Strain out the herbs and add 2 tbsp liquid soap. Keep in a spray bottle, so it's ready when you need it. (Try a Basil Tea spray for leaf-hoppers, aphids, cabbage loopers, mites or beetles!)
Use as a general insect and pest (deer, raccoons, rabbits, etc) deterrent.
- Mix 2 tbsp hot (cayenne or hotter) pepper with 6 drops liquid soap and 1 gallon water. Store in a spray bottle for easy use.
- Mix ½ cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp hot pepper sauce, 1/8 tsp liquid soap. Shake well and put in a spray bottle.
More Organic Insect Control Ideas:
Aphid lions are attracted to borage. Aphid lions are one of the friendly insects in your garden, dining on many other pesty garden insects.
Is an antifungal and repels ants
If you have a problem with cutworms, try sprinkling cornmeal around the plants. They eat the cornmeal, but can't digest it.
Use 10 drops of a very fragrant essential oil like mint or pennyroyal mixed with 1/8 tsp liquid soap and 1 qt water. Use as a preventative measure, by spraying on the leaves of plants that are most likely to get attacked by insects.
Fireflies are very heavy eaters of some of the most pesty garden insects (larvae, mites, slugs, snails, cutworms, etc.). You can attract fireflies by leaving an area near your garden that's not mowed (and that isn't treated with chemicals!).
To keep ants from eating your plants, spread a thick layer of petroleum jelly (even Vicks will work!) around the plant's stem or trunk
If you have a problem with cabbage worms or grashoppers, go out in the morning while there is still dew on your plants. Sprinkle the plants with flour. Then the next day, wash off the flour and the dead bugs.
Helpful Little Critters:
Salamanders, toads, turtles and lizards all help your garden by making meals out of insects. Attract these garden friends by leaving small piles of rocks or wood for them to hide in.
Most snakes are quite harmless and are even helpful in your garden as they eat insects and rodents!
As much as spiders give us "the creeps," they are so important in helping to keep the insect population under control in your garden. You can encourage spiders to patrol your garden, by building little shelters out of mounds of twigs or rocks. I've also heard of those who take terra cotta pots and turn them upside down in the garden, leaving them as "spider houses" around the garden.
Sugar water sprayed on plants infected with aphids, scale, whiteflies or mites, can attract ladybird beetles (who will eat these pesty critters for you). Spray the sugar water onto the plants, but don't spray any ladybird beetles themselves.
A good common all-around gardening agent that fights fungus diseases, some insects, and kills weeds.
- Organic insect control ideas
- Companion Planting for Insect Control
- Incorrect Soil pH Could affect plant health. How to Test Soil pH
Note: the advice and information contained herein is based upon our experience and study. As with any advice, please apply at your own discretion.