5 Organic Ways to Keep Garden Pests in Check
Organic gardening is simply fun and beneficial for a healthy lifestyle but it comes with a small problem. Irrespective of your expertise in gardening, at some point or other, pest problem becomes inevitable. To some extent, it is natural for pests to attack and the plants can defend themselves but if left unattended, it can become a major problem resulting in lost crop or even worse - loss of interest in gardening.
So my goal in this article is to share few easy tips that we follow (and easy for anyone to follow) to keep the garden pests in check. The types of pests that attack your garden may vary depending on where you live. However, general principles and tips mentioned in this blog post are common across.
With that said, let's dig into the tips that you can easily follow without a sweat (pun intended).
# 1 - Bug Repellent Sprays
A simple yet very effective way to control pests is a good old DIY bug repellent spray. We use 4-5 different variations of sprays that we keep rotating on our plants. They are: neem oil spray, asafoetida spray, cayenne pepper spray, and essential oil sprays (mint, cinnamon, lavender). One of the benefits of these sprays as opposed to powerful chemical pesticides: there will not be any impact to good bugs like bees or the guy in below picture.
Irrespective of type of spray, the process of diluting these oils/powder remains same. Dilute a bit of oil or powder in water and liquid soap. That's it and it is ready to spray. All you need is a sprayer, we found that this sprayer works best for a mid sized garden.
# 2 - Egg Shells
No matter what type or how much of bug repellent spray you use, at times some bugs need additional defense. For example, some worms (like the ones we see on corn and cabbage) will continue to attack. The best solution for this problem are egg shells. Just crush some egg shells and place them around the base of the plants. If you notice signs of damage on the leaves already, sprinkle some of the crushed shells on the leaves where there is damage.
On a side note, if you happen to have some spoiled eggs they work as very good organic fertilizer.
# 3 - Companion Plants
Some plants have pest repellent qualities and act as natural repellents in your garden. For example: the strong scent of onions and garlic can repel some types of pests, radishes and borage can repel cucumber beetles, tomato hornworms, cabbage moths and so on. Plant these beneficial plants randomly across your garden.
Some plants attract beneficial bugs to your garden. Planting some flowers like marigolds attract bees (which help with pollination) and ladybugs (which feed on bugs like aphids). On a similar note, sunflowers help keep aphids off other plants. So don't focus on symmetry in your garden, mix them up and watch them support each other.
# 4 - Permaculture Principles
A super effective method to keep pests from destroying your garden is to follow some of the basic principles of permaculture. The full-fledged permaculture growing method was a bit too complicated for us, so we choose to follow what we thought would work for us.
Mix up crops: It is recommended to grow different crops in one raised bed, instead of one kind, to take away the opportunity from pests to attack their favorite plant. We can personally attest that this method works very well from our experience.
Grow in season: This may sound like a no brainer but sometimes we try to grow vegetables out of season. Plants grown during their natural growing season are generally healthy and can repel pests naturally, as opposed to forcibly growing them in a different season.
# 5 - Healthy Soil and Regular Feeding
Soil is more like the heart of a healthy plant. Healthy plants have the tendency to defend pests naturally. So keep building up the soil by adding compost and/or organic fertilizer on a regular basis. In addition to fertilizers, add some organic matter like blood meal and bone meal. Also, crop rotation is key to keeping the soil alive and fertile.
Some counties (depending on where you live) offer free compost for their residents. We are not fortunate enough to have that facility so we prepare our own compost at home. If you want to learn the process for simple no-nonsense composting, please click here.
For organic fertilizer, some options are: fertilizer, fertilizer sticks, blood meal, bone meal, and last but not the least - black cow can be purchased at Lowes. Adding some composted manure is one of the best nutrition for plants.
On a side note, if you already are an experienced gardener, let us know what methods worked for you and share any tips or tricks in the comments below.
That's all from me and hope this was helpful to you. Peace !!!