Pest Control

Natural Pest Control II

Here are some effective ways to combat common garden pests in a natural, non-invasive way.

Companion Planting

Many gardeners decide to employ the so-called “companion planting”, which is a traditional Native American method of planting. Companion planting means using specific plants to go with your main plants. These companion plants are believed to help the main plants grow and protect them from pests and other problems.

This method also recommends planting the “Three sisters”: corn, squash and beans together in organized rows in order to create a good habitat for beneficial insects. This can help a lot in eliminating the pest problems.

The opposite method, monocropping (planting just one crop at a time or separating crops by type), will create the opposite effect. It will create a good habitat for specific pests, which means you will need to use pesticides, insecticides and other products to try get rid of them. Companion planting, on the other hand, creates an interconnected, positive feedback loop system and it’s highly recommended. For the best results, mic up your crops, fruits and vegetables with other herbs and flowers  you will plant between your main plants.

Another strategy in companion planting is to incorporate plants with strong tastes and odors. These plants are offensive to pests and act as a good pest repellent. Plant them in your garden to force pests out.

In order to find the right companion plant, it’s important to know what you’re growing in your garden, as well as where you’re growing it. Common companion herbs, flowers and vegetables are: mint, rue, clove, marigold, sweet basil, onion, nasturtium, radish and garlic.


Natural Pest Control Ideas

Here are a few effective methods and ideas on how to get rid of pests in your garden in a fully natural way:

Handpicking. It may seem gross, but it is a very effective method of eliminating pests from your plants.
Pheromones. These are natural scents that attract insects into sticky traps. They are useful for lining your perimeter.
Floating Row Covers. These protective covers made of lightweight opaque material are draped over beds and anchored to the ground. They will allow sunlight and water in, but will keep pests out. The material used for the covers should be supple enough so it can grow with the plant and it’s spun in order to prevent tearing.
Cloche. These are miniature greenhouses and they are made to provide a great barrier for seedlings against pests. Keep in mind that they must be kept open in the heat and to allow watering.
Barrier Paper. These are special scraps of waxed cardboard paper places at the base of the plant or over the stems and roots to protect them from pests.
Pest Potions. These potions can be made using everyday household ingredients. These are homemade repellents you can use to deter pests from your plants. There are many natural homemade recipes you can try to make very effective repellents.
Other methods: flypaper, traps, eggshell barriers, fences.

Organic Pesticides

There are numerous organic solutions and ingredients you can use to get rid of pests:
Pyrethrins. They are derived from the dried, powdered heads of chrysanthemums flowers. They are very effective and can quickly target infestations. They will kill everything, even beneficial insects, so use them sparingly and only spot treat your plants.
Diatomaceous earth. It kills pests by inflicting lacerations on their bodies, so pests dry out and die. You can use powder form of Diatomaceous earth on almost anything and it can be a great barrier to put around your house or garden. You may also put it around the plants.
Boric acid. It is made from borate commonly known as Borax. It acts as a slow-acting stomach poison. It means that an infected pest will infect the whole colony, so it’s a good way to get rid of many pests at once.
Insecticidal soaps. Use vegetable-based, non-toxic soaps to kill pests. These soaps kill pests by breaking down their waxy cuticles and dissolving cell membranes. It is best used on soft-bodied pests, such as aphids, scales, catepillars, flies and grasshoppers.
Horticultural oils. These oils plug spiracles, holes for respiration on the pests. If you want to use it, make sure to choose a vegetable-based oil to spray around your garden. You may choose between adormant oil which is heavier and should be sprayed when leaves have dropped, and summer oil, which can be safely used on foliage.
Neem oil. It is derived from the seeds/fruits of the neem tree. These oils can kill pests like an insecticidal soap and horticulture oil, but can also work as an insect growth regulator and antifeedant on aphids, catepillars, grubs, beetles, and mites.

Non-Insect Control

There are many non-insect pests that can do a lot of damage in your garden, such as deer and various rodents. Squirrels tend to be very pesky so chances are that you want them to skip your garden. You can discourage these pests from your garden using a few handy tricks:

Deer can be controlled using hanging satchels of human hair. Hand them in the branches of trees, bushes, or around the garden.  Another way to repel deer is to place bars of fragrant soap on branches. Hot sauce may also do the trick. Spray this mixture on the plants to deter deer.

Rodents are known to search for open food sources. To discourage them, make sure to seal your compost bins as well as trash bins. Rodents and rabbits are allergic to peppermint so you may deter them by soaking cotton balls or rags in peppermint and place them all around the garden. That should chase them away. Keep in mind that you need to reapply the peppermint oil after each rain.

Photo credit: Scot Nelson via photopin cc