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What Is the Best Organic Pest Control Method for the Garden?
Depending on which breed of critters are disturbing your garden, the best organic pest control method varies.
The first step to selecting the best form of organic pest control for your garden is identifying the invading species that are affecting your plants. Once you know what sort of pests you’re dealing with, you can choose the most potent control method.
Here are over two-dozen of the best organic pest control methods for the garden that we know and love:
Believe it or not, regular old house-hold cinnamon is one of our very favorite forms of organic pest control. It’s inexpensive compared to other store-bought pest control products and is quite effective at warding off a plethora of bugs.
Sprinkle cinnamon on your plant’s leaves and on the topsoil around the base of their main stems/stalks for best results. You can also use cinnamon in homemade organic pest control sprays.
For gardens with caterpillar issues, Bacillus thuringiensis, also known as BT, is one of the best organic pest control techniques to remedy the situation.
The bacteria-based agent is typically sprayed onto crops and allowed to dry over the course of a week to a week and a half (or so).
BT is considered a safe organic option towards beneficial insects as it is only lethal to bugs that are literally eating the crops which are you apply BT on.
White vinegar and lemon
The white-vinegar and lemon juice spray is one of the newest forms of organic pest control that we’ve experimented with.
That said, so far, it seems to be working fairly well as we haven’t really noticed much pest activity around plants that’ve been misted with the substance.
Mix equal amounts of water and white vinegar together and pour it into a spray bottle with several drops of lemon juice concentrate. Spray the leaves of plants your wish to protect as well as the top layer of soil around the plants.
Check plants for pests manually on a daily basis
Probably the least popular form of organic pest control, but an extremely successful one is simply checking the garden, plant by plant, each day.
Sure, it takes a bit of time (which some folks just don’t have – and we get that), but it also gives you much better control on many common garden pests.
Walk through your garden each day and glance-over each plant for obvious pests. Remove anything that shouldn’t be there.
Remove unhealthy plants (or keep as trap plants)
Speaking of removing what shouldn’t be in your garden, removing unhealthy plants as early as possible is another simple organic pest control methods that work wonders.
Catching your unhealthy plants before they begin to wilt and rot (and attract new waves of pests) goes a long way in keeping the rest of your garden pest-free.
Taking the time to walk through your garden each day and have a look for unhealthy plants only takes a few minutes and it can be extremely beneficial.
Grow plants in the right season
Simply growing plants in their “proper” growing seasons also goes a long way in reducing the number of pests attracted to your garden.
Nature has a funny way of trying to even out the odds, such as plants that are growing out of seasons or in too-large of numbers in one place.
Grow plants the right size
Growing pants larger than they should be, as well as growing too many of one type of plant, tends to attract an unhealthy amount of pests. Again, this is nature’s way of “making things right.”
Stick to growing healthy-sized plants, in small numbers, and you’re already reducing the number of pests you’ll have to deal with in the garden.
Harvest plants early
When nature allows, harvesting your garden plants early is another great way of reducing the number of pests you’ll actually have to deal with in your garden.
Not all plants are able to be harvest early, nor should they be. But, in the same breath, many plants can be harvested early at no reduction of their overall quality.
Tomatoes, bananas, potatoes, and onions are excellent examples of fruits and vegetables that can be harvest early and allowed to ripen “off the vine,” so to speak.
Grow extra plants
In slight contradiction to one of the previously mentioned methods, growing extra plants can sometimes be beneficial as an organic pest control method.
Having one or two extra plants scattered among your actual crops doesn’t take up much extra space and these particular plants can be reserved for attracting and trapping pests.
Simply plant a few extra plants than you want to harvest and allow nature to select which ones will be sacrificed to the pests in order to keep them from eating the rest of the garden.
Keep poultry around (like chickens or ducks)
One method that we’ve seen others using with great success is keeping poultry like chickens or ducks around their crops.
Poultry are natural predators to many common garden pests such as nymphs, slugs, snails, and other bugs.
The downside is that in vegetable gardens, poultry may do more damage eating your crops than the pests themselves.
Diversity of habitat (grow multiple types of plants)
Growing a healthy and diverse amount of species of crops growing in your garden also works well as a simple organic pest control method.
In nature, bugs are attracted to large mono-crops and patches of plants that “stick out” from the rest of the local habitat.
The mere act of growing more types of plants, rather than large yields of fewer types of plants, can cut down your pest issues tremendously.
Develop a companion planting system
Planting some sorts of plant species within close proximity to one another is an efficient organic pest control method overlooked by many.
For example, plating leeks and onions near carrots and radishes will protect all four species from earth flies, rabbits, and other common pests for various natural reasons. Earth flies don’t like the smell of lettuce, just as rabbits don’t like the smell of onions.
Also, planting certain perennial flowers, such as daffodils, around the borders of your garden can prevent mice from entering and ravaging the garden.
With a bit of research, you can learn which of your favorite plants benefit the most from being planted near each other.
Recruit beneficial insects to eat pests
As the old saying goes, “fight fire with fire,” or something to that degree anyway.
Insects being the fire, in this case.
There are several species of insects that are beneficial to gardens as a form of organic pest control, ground and lady beetles, and ladybugs for example.
These beneficial insects hunt down and eat many of the smaller pests.
To draw beneficial insects into your garden’s proximity, try planting corn, mint, and foreign strains of grass.
This soil-based bacterium prays on many common garden pests such as spider mites, caterpillars, and bagworms.
Spinosad is available in both dust and liquid form via a wide range of manufacturers.
Many gardeners prefer spinosad to other pest control substances as it is bee-friendly.
A slow-working naturally-occurring chemical born from the seeds and stems of certain plants, rotenone is extremely good at knocking out (killing) beetles, spiders, caterpillars, thrips, and many other common garden pests.
That said, use rotenone sparingly, and only as a last resort if your garden if you care about being nature-friendly as the chemical is toxic to many mammals (which may be friendly, in addition to the pest-species).
Rotenone is available in both powder and sprayable forms under numerous brand-names.
Another powerful organic pest control chemical extracted from plants, pyrethrin is preferred by many gardeners as it is both potent and non-toxic to mammals.
Pyrethrin also works quicker than other organic-chemical pest control substances such as rotenone.
One downside to using pyrethrin is that it doesn’t always work the greatest against insects of the flying-types. But, many brand-name pyrethrin solutions include other organic substances to boost the potency of the product.
You guess it, this organic pest control substance is found in both solid and liquid forms.
If you want to prevent pests from becoming an issue in your garden in the first place, neem oil is an excellent form of organic pest control to use.
Neem oil works not only to slow down the growth and appetites of pest insects but it also works well at prevent powdery mildew on vine-based crops.
Spray neem oil on your garden at the first sign of pests, if not before, for optimal results.
Some gardeners swear by garlic, usually the same ones that swear by neem oil. In fact, these gardeners suggest mixing both garlic and neem oil together as the ultimate all-in-one pest control method for organic gardens.
We’ve used neem oil, with success, but haven’t gotten around to trying the garlic yet. So, let us know in the comments section if you’ve used garlic for pest control, and if so, how it went!
For gardeners who are hard-core organic (highly opposed to chemicals, even the organic ones), diatomaceous earth is a great method for controlling pests in the garden.
Sprinkle a bit of this fossilized algae-matter in your garden and within a couple of weeks, your pests will begin dropping-off the radar (…never to return).
Diatomaceous earth is efficient at ridding gardens of beetles, flies, slugs, crickets, and other common pests. The downside is that it kills beneficial insects with equal ease.
For spider mites, thrips, psyllids, and other garden pests, many non-toxic minerals (or at least less toxic ones) work well as a form of organic pest control.
A few of the most popular minerals used for pest control include sulfur, lime, iron phosphate, and copper.
There are safe minerals to use with virtually all of the plants you may be growing in your garden.
Paprika, cayenne, or chili powder
Depending on the type of pests that are tormenting your crops, paprika or chili powder can be a godsend of a pest control agent.
For large pests, specifically mammals (think deer, raccoons, and rabbits), these spicey powders will send them running with their mouths or noses screaming at them.
Most pests that get a mouthful or noseful of one of these peppery substances won’t return for a second helping.
Use Raised Beds
Using raised beds for planting is another no-non-sense form of organic pest control, albeit a passive one.
The logic behind using raised beds is that they are elevated enough to alienate numerous ground-based pests from your crops.
Flying insects and high-jumping ones can still be an issue when using raised beds, however.
Hang CDs or DVDs
As odd as it probably sounds, we know several people who use old CDs and DVDs as a very successful form of pest control, specifically against birds and small mammals that startle easy.
All you have to do is use a bit of fishing line, or thread, and hang a few CDs or DVDs from bushes or tree branches in or around your garden to keep unwanted birds away.
Other organic sprays and remedies
Far more organic pest control substances and techniques exist than we could possible try-out and blog about!
All it takes is a bit of research, and asking around, to come up with all sorts of recipes for organic pest control sprays and remedies.
We like to get our recipes from the old-timers, they seem to really know what they’re doing!
A Final Word About Organic Pest Control
Hopefully, with the above list of organic pest control methods to try out, your pest problem will soon be forgotten.
Do you have an organic pest control secret? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!
Good luck selecting and applying the best form of organic pest control for YOUR garden!
Suggested Reading: HOW TO MAKE ORGANIC COMPOST
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