Natural Pest Control in the Garden

just say no to poison.

chemical pesticides are not only cheap but easily accessible, but do you really want to be spraying your edible garden plants with toxic poison..? doesn’t sound appetizing to me.. nor is it healthy for your children, pets, environment, beneficial insects or you!

prevention is key.

don’t wait until your garden is infested to act, you can take simple steps to prevent infestation.

  1. build healthy soil. nourish your soil., adding a natural compost to your edible garden is a great way to encourage healthy soil and vigorous plants. a healthy plant can resist some insect attacks. use natural fertilizers to build and encourage healthy, beneficial microorganism growth.
  2. don’t overcrowd. do your research, and use the appropriate spacing for the individual plant. overcrowding will create a habitat for insects to thrive, and disease to spread.
  3. be a good garden-sitter. take time to inspect your garden daily. inspect leaves, making sure to check the underside of the leaves for those white flies and other insects that like to hide under the foliage. if you see bugs, pick them off or use a natural spray in the evening when the bugs have settled in for the night.
  4. water early in the morning. so your plants and veggies don’t sit wet throughout the night, this will prevent mildew and fungus growth. plus, slugs and snails like a moist veggie patch to munch on.
  5. keep your garden clean. when plants are dead pull them out, when leaves are dead, clip them off, and pull those weeds. when you keep your garden free of debris, you won’t be giving those insects a habitat to thrive in.

natural solutions.

slugs and snails. try to eliminate their hiding places, debris piles, overgrown weeds, dense ground covers, etc.. go out after dark and handpick them, you’ll often see them crossing your patios to make their way to their garden dinner. use copper wire or copper tape to create a perimeter around your raised garden boxes or planters, it gives them a little jolt as they start to cross the copper.

using crushed egg shells is also a great deterrent, sprinkle around the base of your plants, creating a perimeter. slugs and snails will start to crawl across the eggs shells and suddenly realize, that hurts, and turn around.

i also sprinkle Sluggo sparingly around the base of the plants. Sluggo is a totally organic compound that kills both slugs and snails without the usual poisons. after use, it breaks down into harmless fertilizer (iron phosphate). Sluggo is harmless to children, pets and wildlife!

aphids, whiteflies and other flying insects. i use yellow sticky traps. the yellow attracts them and the sticky traps them. this is a good way to monitor any flying insects in your garden, these traps are non-poiseness and weatherproof.

white traps lure whiteflies, plant bugs, cucumber beetles, and flea beetles. blue traps attract flower thrips, and leafminers.

using a homemade insecticidal soap spray will also help rid the infested plants of these pests. see the recipe below.

grubs. use Milky Spore to rid your garden and lawn of these pests. milky spore powder is a naturally occurring microscopic bacteria, that kills the grub stage of the Japanese beetle. Milky Spore is a good option because it kills only grubs, and will leave beneficial organisms in your garden.

tomato hornworms. bleck! using garden gloves you can pick them off your plants by hand and dump them into a bucket of soapy water. if you notice a worm with white egg sacks attached to them, leave them be. parasitic wasps lay eggs on the hornworm; when they hatch they will attack the host worm and any others that happen to be hanging around.

attract good garden helpers.

ladybugs. consider adding a ladybug feeder and ladybug house in your garden. ladybugs like raisins and aphids, whiteflies and will quickly rid your garden of these pests. you can purchase ladybugs at nurseries and even online. be sure you’re careful with your natural insecticides and diatomaceous earth, because although they kill the bad bugs they also kill the good bugs, like ladybugs. check out my ‘birds, bees, bugs & butterflies’ pinterest board for inspiration and diy projects.

toads. give a toad a home aka a place to hide and a little saucer of water and he will in turn eat the bad bugs in your garden. a toad will eat thousands of pests in a single season, typically consuming two to three times it’s weight—every day. check out my ‘toad abodes’ pinterest board for inspiration and diy projects.

beneficial insects.  view a beneficial insects ID chart from Earthbound Farm.

a list of common plants that attract beneficial insects.

Bee Balm
Butterfly Bush

Chamomile Cosmos
Golden Marguerite

Hairy Vetch
Heather Lavender
Queen Anne’s Lace

Sweet William

natural insecticidal soap.

using a homemade insecticidal soap will also help rid the infested plants of these pests, causing dehydration and then extermination. it is particularly helpful for soft-bodied insects, the spray must come in contact with the soft bodied pests and is most effective if sprayed in the evening, spray only on pests and try to avoid hitting beneficial insects with the spray. once the soap is dry it has no effect.

mix no more than 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid soap (use a biodegradable, plant-based liquid soap such as Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap) and 1 quart water. Pour mixture into a spray bottle and spray pests as needed.

caution: insecticidal soap can burn some plant leaves, test each type of plant before spraying the entire plant.

diatomaceous earth.

Safer Brand Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a dust-like product that contains the crushed fossilized algae (diatoms) from fresh water. these crushed diatoms feel like powder when we rub it in our hand, but it’s very sharp to insects with delicate exoskeletons. when you apply DE, dust is ingested by the crawling insect or the insect crosses through the powder, and the DE will cut their exoskeleton, this causes the insect to dehydrate and die.

DE will kill any crawling insect that crosses its path, good and bad insects, including those cute lil ladybugs that you want working in your garden. so use sparingly and only when needed for infestation.

lightly dust the infested plant with DE, in the evening when the leaves of the plant are dry, DE becomes ineffective once it’s wet, you may need to reapply for 2-3 days.

caution: not all diatomaceous earth is created equal. do not buy your DE from a pool supply store aka pool-grade DE, as it contains up to 70% crystalline silica, a substance known to be carcinogenic with sustained use.

what natural pest control methods do you use in your garden??

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