Gardeners want pest control methods to be as efficient as possible against unwanted visitors. The public has become more concerned about the effects of chemical methods of pest control on people, animals and the environment. There is also the possibility that using pesticides can cause pests to develop a resistance to the substances used to eliminate them. There are several non-chemical ways to control garden pests without negative effects.
The easiest way to solve the problem is to prevent it. Start with a healthy garden by getting rid of weak plants which can attract pests. Next, create healthy soil by using natural composting methods, mulching and using topsoil. You can use seaweed spray which contains several trace elements. Iron, barium, zinc, magnesium, sulfur and calcium promote healthy growth, and seaweed mulch will deter slugs. Keep the garden free of debris and weeds. Rotate crops each year to keep plant specific pests from returning. Wet foliage attracts insects, so water early in the day, keeping plants dry most of the day. Also, remember to disinfect your garden tools before moving to another area.
You can actually purchase beneficial insects to keep in your garden as a means of pest control. These insects prey on many garden pests, and offer a safer alternative to chemical pest control. There are a number of different insects for specific problems, and these include ladybugs, lacewings, hover flies, praying mantis and nematodes. You can also design a small insectary in your garden, designed to attract beneficial insects and provide a sanctuary for them.
Non-toxic Homemade Remedies
For ridding your garden of soft-bodies insects such as mites, aphids and mealybugs, add one tbs canola oil and a few drops of Ivory liquid soap into a quart of water. Shake well and transfer to a spray bottle. Mist plant thoroughly, making sure to get tops and bottoms of leaves. The oil in this mixture smothers the insects. Another remedy to try is mixing 2 tbsp. of cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce with several drops of Ivory soap in a quart of water. Let it blend overnight, then use it to mist plants that are troubled with mites and other insects. For insects on fruit trees, make a spray of 1 cup vegetable oil, 2 tbsp. liquid soap and one gallon of water. It is best to mix the soap and oil first, then add the water. Remember that any method of pest control that kills harmful insects also kills good insects. Be selective in choosing which remedy to use in your garden, and only use on affected plants.
If you have a problem with rodents, be sure all compost bins are closed securely. Soak rags or cotton balls in peppermint oil and place them in the areas that have rodent activity. They are allergic to the peppermint oil and will not go near it. Rabbits can also be deterred with this method.