Natural Pest Control Methods
Tasteful Garden promotes natural pest control methods such as keeping
your garden clean and weeded, using mulches and good compost in the
soil, and organically made pesticides only when absolutely necessary.We
believe that healthy, happy, plants will have a naturally immunity to
pests and diseases and in the long run can protect our environment from
overuse of pesticides.
In many cases, when you see damage to the leaves of a
vegetable plant, the plant is not in danger of dying, only being
nibbled on by an occasional insect. Other times, your plants can be
literally eaten away overnight by some hungry snails, cut off at the
base by a cutworm, or dug out of the ground by a squirrel. This can be
heartbreaking when it happens but keep in mind that we share the earth
with these creatures and your garden looks like a really great place to
hang out! Most of the time, simple methods which have been used for
many years by gardeners are the best way to combat the situation.
Below we have listed some of the more common pests for
gardeners and the easiest technique to get rid of one or two, as well
as a more thorough way to eliminate a full-on assault by these
creatures.If you do use any type of commercially bought pesticides,
always make sure to read the directions carefully and never use more
than is recommended. Even organic pesticides can be dangerous and can
kill honeybees and birds if overused.
Killing every insect in your garden is not a good idea because many
beneficial insects which eat other pests can be killed and this can
create a worse
problem. There are also many living creatures in the soil which help to
break it down and provide nutritious soil for your plants which can be
killed such as earthworms and bacteria.
Many diseases are spread by splashing water so water
sprinklers and heavy rains can create molds, fungus', and bacterial
diseases which can make your plants very unhappy and sometimes can kill
them. Mulching with dried leaves, pine straw, hay straw, grass
and even cardboard can make all the difference in keeping diseases
under control. They can also help hold in moisture and protect from
overheating the soil in the hot summer months. This keeps plants
happier and healthier and can prevent stressful conditions which invite
infestations of insects.
Organic gardening is done in
the backyard by understanding that a healthy, happy plant, in good,
nutritious, soil helps prevent most
diseases and harmful insect damage. It is not necessary to kill every
insect in the garden, as many pesticides do, but it is important to
keep your garden mulched, watered, weeded and clean of debris to
prevent problems. Read more about these insects below.
The Tomato Hornworm is definitely the scariest pest in the garden, growing up to 5" long,
they resemble something from a bad 70's movie. They are not dangerous
to people but to a tomato plant they are very heavy feeders and can eat
quite a lot of leaves. Female moths lay eggs under the leaves of the
tomato plant and once they hatch and start feeding they grow quickly.
They eventually make their way into the ground and stay until they
become adult moths. Tilling in spring helps prevent worms and moving
your tomatoes each year can also help. The best way to get rid of them
once you know you have a problem is to look for them at dusk when they
are most active. They can be very hard to find because of their
coloring. They leave black droppings behind and that can help with
tracking them down. Usually picking them off does the trick, just keep
checking for new damage through the season.
Many people use an
organic product called Bacillus Thuringiensis, or BT, which is a powder
that you can spray on the underside of the leaves to kill the eggs. It
washes off quickly in rain and must be applied once a week.
Slugs & Snails are not really bugs but they can be some of the worst creatures in your
garden. They are leaf and stem eaters and there are certain plants they
love to eat like Basil and leafy garden vegetables. They can even climb
small citrus trees and eat the leaves and suck on the fruit. They can
eat their way through a young basil plant literally overnight and leave
you blaming the rabbits, squirrels or your dog. They eat all night long
and hide in dark, cool, damp places all day long. There are several
ways of preventing their damage and I will try to tell you which ones
work and why.
The most commonly used prevention is the slug and
snail baits that are sold in garden centers. They do work if you follow
the directions on the box and replace them when it rains. They contain
Metaldehyde and as the snails eat it they will slowly die. Many
formulations can be dangerous to use around birds or pets and are not
labeled for use around edible plants. Fortunately there has been a new
bait developed called "Sluggo" that is safe around pets and will break
down into iron in the soil. It is pricey but good and very safe for use
around herbs and vegetables.
The best way to prevent snails and
slugs is to create barriers that they cannot cross over to get to your
basil. Any type of copper can be used to make a wall that electrically
shocks their body (fun isn't it) or wood ashes, crushed egg shells
(easy and cheap), or diatomaceous earth which cut into their soft flesh.
Another thing that needs to be done is to try to eliminate as many of
the snails as you can find. You don't have to go out into the garden at
night with a flashlight. You can place boards out in the area propped
up slightly and they will hide there during the day. Go out in the
afternoon and remove them from the shady side of the board and destroy
them. Follow their slime trails to track down their hiding places. Beer
traps work by drowning slugs but hardly ever catch snails as they are
not really beer drinkers.
Encourage natural enemies such as birds, toads, and
salamanders, also chickens and ducks are efficient snail hunters. Good
luck and don't have too much fun.
The Mexican Bean Beetle and the Japanese Beetleattack
most varieties of Bean plants as well as roses and many other plants,
eating away at the leaves until they look similar to lace. They can be
very destructive to bean plants and the pods. They should be watched
for around June through August when the adults are most
actively feeding. They start out yellow or beige and develop their
spots after reaching full adulthood. Check your plants frequently under
the leaves for egg sacks and remove them immediately. If the damage is
visible, lay a cloth under the plants and shake the stems until the
beetles fall off the plant.
Collect them on the cloth and dispose of them.
treatment for Japanese beetles is Milky Spore which is a bacterial
powder that kills only Japanese beetle grubs while they are feeding
underground in the Fall. See this product in our catalog for more
information. There are also organic sprays that can be used in cases of
severe infestation such as our Neem II spray. Always use all pesticides, even organic ones, as directed on the bottle.
Whiteflies and Aphids will usually attack plants that are under stress of some kind. Indoors,
herbs are always under some kind of stress, usually one of three things
is the case. The first is not enough light (they need about 4 hours a
day), second could be that their pots are too small for them (6" should
be minimum size), third is too much watering (never let your plants sit
in a tray of water and don't water until the soil feels dry to the
touch). If you find that one or more of these is the problem, do what
you can to correct it first before you spray for the whiteflies.
that does not get rid of them, you can spray them with a little soapy
water (dishwashing soap squirted into a spray bottle filled with
water). Leave it on for only a hour or so and then wash it off. You may
need a couple of treatments but it will get rid of them eventually.
There is also an organic spray that is called Neem II that is even better than the soap spray. It is made from Neem oil and
is combined with Pyrethrum from the Chrysanthemum plant, which works on
many types of insects as a deterrent and a killer.
Honey Bees and Bumble Bees are the primary pollinators of vegetables, fruit trees and flowers.
They are very important creatures in the garden. The native bumblebee
is a large, black, fuzzy bee with a yellow or reddish stripe on its
middle. It is the bee that pollinates your tomatoes, peppers and
eggplants. Along with Honeybees and Orchard Mason bees, they feed on
pollen and nectar from the flowers of garden plants and flowering
trees. As they go from flower to flower they distribute the pollen and
this creates the process which results in fruiting. Without their help
the plants are on their own and cannot propagate by themselves.
can be very toxic to bees, especially Carbaryl. Many bee viruses and
certain species of mites, in addition to spraying of pesticides, have
killed off large numbers of naturalized honeybees. It is important to
create areas in our gardens which allow them to multiply. Plant nectar
flowers and flowering lavenders near your vegetable gardens and provide
a source of water for them and they will thrive. Never spray any
pesticides which are harmful to bees and use organic sprays which
evaporate quickly. Watch out for nests and hives so you don't get stung
because when they have used their stingers, they will die.
Ladybugs(Lady beetles) are a great pleasure to see in your garden because they are so
indispensable for fighting aphid problems. It is technically a beetle
and grows to about 1/4 inch long. Ladybugs cause no plant damage at all
and are sold in garden centers everywhere. They will eat large amounts
of aphids and then fly onto another plant to eat more.
that if you buy a box of ladybugs they may move on to your neighbors
house when they can't find enough to eat at your house. It is a good
idea to spray your plants with a diluted sugar-water solution before
you release them to give them a drink and make them want to stay home.
Many household pesticides (even insecticidal soaps) can kill ladybugs
and their larvae so always spray carefully, even if you use organic