Many gardeners turn to pesticides in order to rid their gardens of harmful pests. However, most times such damaging and sometimes toxic measures aren’t necessary. Prevention, traps and barriers, and homemade remedies can often be all the control you need for your garden.
One of the most important components to pest control is prevention. Get rid of any weak plants, as they can be a breeding ground for predators. Also clear out any weeds or debris. Use natural composting to strengthen your plants, as well as top-dressing and mulching. Use seaweed mulch or spray, which repels slugs as well as providing important nutrients like iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium. Rotate your crops every year, as many pests are crop-specific. Keep your foliage dry by watering early in the day. Clean your tools if they’ve been used on infected plants, in order to minimize contamination.
These home remedies are specific to the type of pest you encounter in your garden.
- Soft-bodied insects: Combine one tablespoon canola oil, one quart of water and a few drops of Ivory soap, and fill spray bottle. Shake well, and spray plant from above and below.
- Mites and other insects: In a quart of water, mix two tablespoons of cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce, and a few drops of Ivory soap. Let stand overnight and then use a spray bottle to apply to plants.
- Grubs: Use milky spore—natural granules spread on soil. One application can last 40 years, as it naturally multiplies.
- Earwigs: Use diatomaceous earth by sprinkling it over plants and around garden bed edges.
- Fungal diseases: Take two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of water, pour into spray bottle and spray affected area every few days as needed.
- Insects and fungal diseases: In a quart of water, mix one tablespoon cooking oil, two tablespoons baking soda, as well as a few drops of Ivory soap. Pour into spray bottle and apply three treatments, one week apart.
- Powdery mildew: Combine equal parts water and milk and spray three treatments on infected plants, one week apart.
- Insects on fruit trees: Use lime sulfur and dormant oil, which you can purchase from nurseries and garden centers. Apply with pump sprayer. To make your own dormant oil, combine one cup vegetable oil and two tablespoons of liquid soap into one gallon of water.
Traps and Barriers
Traps and barriers can also be used to keep pests away. These include yellow flypaper, pheromones, apple maggot traps, cloche, floating row covers, and barrier paper.
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