One of the biggest problems in organic gardening is controlling pests. Left unchecked, harmful insects can kill plants or leave them unable to produce. From ants and aphids to slugs and snails, there are a number of ways to eliminate pests from your precious produce without harming the environment. Here are five great ways to get rid of pests organically.
1) Natural herbs – Many plants naturally repel insects. Mint, lavender, and garlic make great additions to your garden and have been proven to ward off some of the most common pests such as aphids, moths, and beetles.
2) Other insects – Some insects attack and eat other bugs while leaving plants unharmed. Everyone’s favorite, the ladybug, loves to feast on aphids and can consume 50 or 60 in a single day. A praying mantis can eat 16 crickets a day and will attack just about any insect harmful to plants. Nematodes, a type of small parasite, are also very effective at handling a large variety of pests though they may be deadly to other helpful insects.
3) Botanical sprays – Some pesticides have been certified for use in organic gardening. These include neem oil, sabadilla, and rotenone. Neem oil is derived from the neem tree in India and has been used in gardening for the past 4,000 years. Sabadilla is produced from the sabadilla lilly and is considered the least toxic of all natural pesticides. Rotenone is derived from two roots of the leguminoceae family and can shield many plants from the ravages of insects.
4) Mineral-based pesticides – These are simply powdered chemicals sprinkled on and around plants. Sulphur was used as a pesticide more than 3,000 years ago by the Greeks and is non-toxic to mammals. Lime sulphur is a mix that is applied to fruit trees but has the unfortunate drawback of smelling like rotten eggs. Care should be taken when sulphurs are used in temperatures of 80 degrees or more as they can be harmful to plants.
5) Diatomaceous earth – This is a non-toxic insecticide that is mined from the fossilized silica shell remnants of tiny sea creatures. It is especially good for getting rid of slugs, millipedes, aphids, and grasshoppers. This solution is particularly lethal to insects because its microscopic edges cut them open and dry out their insides.
As you can see, controlling harmful insects organically isn’t very difficult or expensive and often yields a more flavorful produce. Many gardeners are now embracing natural pest control methods because they work well and are friendly to the environment.