You don't need toxic chemicals to keep pests off your plants. If you're a keen home gardener, you've probably struggled with pests out to ruin your hard-raised crops. If you are ready to avoid pests but concerned about the chemicals in pesticides, read on. There are reliable, safe and pesticide-free methods to proof your garden and guard your crops.
Build a Healthy Garden
Prevention is better than any cure. The best way to prevent pests from taking over your garden is to avoid attracting them. Here are two great methods to keep your gardens clean. - A thriving garden is more capable of resisting pests. Work to keep it healthy and you may be able to avoid pest problems altogether. Minimize insect habitats by removing debris and using clean mulch. Remove any weak or damaged plants and build up your soil with healthy organic materials, natural fertilizer and mulch. - Mix up your crops. Large areas of the same crop encourage pests to spread. Use seaweed mulch or spray to encourage healthy plants and discourage slugs. Preventing fungal growth on your plants is easy when you keep your foliage dry by watering first thing in the morning.
Companion planting is when you use plants in strategic ways to attract beneficial insects and repel harmful ones. Certain plants can be used to repel pests; marigolds and calendula are very effective, known as the "workhorses of pest deterrents." Plant lots of these in pots and move them around your crops to repel harmful insects. They are particularly effective in protecting cabbages and Brassica, as their scent confuses the white moth and keeps it at bay. Garlic and chives are excellent for keeping aphids at bay, and planting either one among your roses can safeguard your blooms. The other side of the companion planting coin is attracting beneficial insects, like ladybugs, praying mantis, hoverflies and lacewings. Each of these feeds on harmful insects. Some plants that will help you attract these garden helpers include sage, dill, coriander, tansy, fennel, marigold, parsley and even the humble dandelion.
Diatomaceous earth is a killer of soft-bodied garden pests such as slugs. It is safe — even edible — for humans, but the chemical damages the soft bodies of the pests, dehydrating and eventually killing them. For soft-bodied insects, such as mites and aphids, mix a couple of drops of canola oil with a little ivory soap, add a quart of water and use a spray bottle to spray infected plants. For optimal results, shake regularly to keep the solution well-mixed. For grubs, there is a handy remedy called Milky Spore which is sprinkled on the soil and affects only the grubs, leaving beneficial insects unharmed. If you have a slug problem, there are a plethora of non-toxic ways to deal with them, from beer traps to copper slug fences to coffee grounds. There are many ways to keep your garden healthy and pest-free; pesticides don't have to be part of the process. It takes some dedication and a little research on your part, but it is well worth it for the health of your family.