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Tips & Tricks of the Trade

Organic Pest Control

Suppose you are keen on looking after the environment and not using potentially harmful and hazardous chemicals on your flowers, plants and vegetables. In that case, 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 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 plant’s growth and 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.

Stressed, over- or under-watered plants will encourage disease and pests to attack them. Regularly monitoring the state of your plants will help determine any problems before pest populations multiply.

BEATING PESTS NATURALLY

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

Sticky Traps

Sticky traps are rigid materials of a particular colour (yellow, white or blue) coated with a sticky substance that ishung close to the plant’s 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 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) is a natural bacterium in the soil, sold in a liquid or powder form. It is mixed and diluted with water and then sprayed onto the plants. BT helps control caterpillars, moths, and grubs.
  • Pyrethrum is 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 before use, as it can cause the leaves to burn.

Homemade Remedies

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

  • Insecticide: Chop four large onions, two cloves of garlic and four hot chillies. Mix them, cover them with warm, soapy water, and leave them 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 the liquid, and add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid, 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 the liquid. The result will be an environmentally friendly homemade spray that can 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 preventing pest attacks.

Instead of choosing plants according to their aesthetic beauty or scent, consider planting a range of flowers and herbs with abundant 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 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 bugs and aphids.

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

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

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