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Tips & Tricks of the Trade

Organic Pest Control

If you are keen on looking after the environment and not using potentially harmful and hazardous chemicals on your flowers, plants and vegetables, then there are a range of organic pest control methods that you can utilise to help deal with common pests that can invade your garden.

The first step to organic pest control is to ensure your garden and plants are healthy and have ideal growing conditions. This will include ensuring there is adequate water, minimal weeds, regular fertilising and sufficient amounts of shade and sun for the particular needs of your plants.

A rich and organic soil maintains the pH balance, encouraging the growth of healthy plants and vegetables. A poor and nutrient deprived soil will hamper the plants growth and will increase the production of carbohydrates, which insects thrive on. To increase soil health, add compost and fertilisers to restore nutrients to the soil and plants.

Plants that are stressed or are over or under watered will encourage disease and pests to attack them. Regularly monitoring the state of your plants will help determine any problems before pest populations begin to multiply.

BEATING PESTS NATURALLY

There are a variety of organic pest control methods to help treat and prevent pest infestations and attacks once you notice that you have a problem. These include:

Sticky Traps

Sticky traps are a rigid material of a particular colour (yellow, white or blue) that is coated with a sticky substance is hung close the plant height. The trap will catch insects and bugs that are attracted to the colour. You will then be able to determine what pests are in your garden and the extent of their numbers. Sticky traps can be made at home or purchased from a garden supplier.

Barriers

Barriers create a physical barrier between the pest and the plant, such as a thin netting over the plants, that is secured firmly to the ground so the pests cannot attack the plants.

Products and Sprays

There are a variety of organic sprays available to combat common pests. These are available at your local nursery or retailer, and include:

  • Bacillus Thuringiensis (or BT) – a natural bacterium found in the soil, which is sold in a liquid or powder form. It is mixed and diluted with water then sprayed onto the plants. BT helps to control caterpillars, moths and grubs.
  • Pyrethrum – a natural insecticide made from the flowers of chrysanthemums, and used for controlling grasshoppers, ants, aphids, caterpillars and thrips.
  • Insecticide Soap – this is mixed with water and then sprayed directly onto the insects. Many insects and bugs cannot tolerate soap. It is highly effective on aphids and other soft-bodied pests. Care should be given not to spray any beneficial insects in the area. The spray should not be applied during hot weather and should be tested on each plant prior to use as it can cause the leaves to burn.

Homemade Remedies

If you want to opt for the cheaper DIY method, there are a variety of homemade remedies that can be made up using a mixture of common household items. Some of these include:

  • Insecticide: Chop four large onions, two cloves of garlic and four hot chillies. Mix them together and cover with warm, soapy water and leave it to stand overnight. Strain off that liquid and add it to five litres of water to create an all-round insecticide.
  • Pesticide: Cover a crushed garlic bulb with vegetable oil and leave for two days. Strain liquid and then add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid and use one millilitre of concentrate to one litre of water to spray over your affected plants.
  • Nature Sprays: Made from basil leaves, chamomile flowers, chopped chives, chilli, garlic, eucalyptus leaves or citronella. Soak a cupful of an item in boiling water for a day or two and then strain liquid. The result will be an environmentally friendly homemade spray that can be used to kill pests.

ATTRACT GOOD BUGS TO YOUR GARDEN TO COMBAT THE BAD ONES

The type of flowers and plants you have in your garden can go a long way in the prevention of pest attacks.

Instead of choosing plants according to their aesthetic beauty or scent, consider planting a range of flowers and herbs that have an abundance of pollen and nectar. This will attract pollinators and other beneficial insects into your garden, which will, in turn, help to rid you of other troublesome and unwanted pests.

Consider planting some of the following:

  • Members of the cabbage family, flowering turnips, mazuma and mustard. These are full of nectar and pollen, which attract pollinators – as well as hoverflies and lacewings, which help to control aphids.
  • Salvia, rosemary, sage, dill, fennel and coriander. These will attract insects such as praying mantises, assassin bugs and robber flies, which eat caterpillars.
  • Marigolds. Plant marigolds alongside vegetable crops such as tomatoes as they can help prevent root knot nematodes (microscopic organisms that attack the roots of plants, eventually killing them).
  • Choco plants or vines. Chocos will immediately attract a range of ladybirds, some of which can help to control scale, mildew, mealy bug and aphids.

So, to whatever form or extent you’d like to take it, there are a wide range of organic pest control methods that you can do (or purchase) yourself, which are a natural and ‘greener’ choice for the environment.

And, of course, if you want some additional help and advice on organic gardening or pest control, Fox Mowing can look after it all for you. And while we’re there in your garden, we can do a lot of other stuff too to get your garden looking and feeling its best.

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