Organic Pest Control Do’s and Don’ts

Organic pest control can seem like a daunting task; however, utilizing the companion planting method, using the right pesticides and being sure to cultivate those beneficial garden insects can make even the most skeptical a believer in the organic way. Companion planting is a natural system that uses the pest-repelling properties of one plant to benefit another, as with nasturtiums and squash, rosemary and cabbage or dill and tomatoes. Another method that closely ties with companion planting is ensuring that beneficial garden insects have an environment in which to thrive. There are many beneficial insects mixed in among the bad that help keep pests from wreaking havoc on plants, such as:

  • Ladybugs, which dine on aphids
  • Lacewing flies, who are not afraid to tackle caterpillars and thrips for supper
  • Braconid wasps, that lay their eggs on tomato worms, which then die when the larvae hatch
  • Spiders, who enjoy pesky flies, nymphs and beetles

Additionally, the right organic pesticide for controlling bad bugs can make a world of difference in the garden. Some of the most commonly used today are:

  • Neem Oil, derived from an evergreen tree indigenous to India
  • Spinosad, a naturally occurring soil bacterium
  • Homemade garlic tea, made by steeping garlic cloves and water into a strong solution

However, be mindful of excess pesticide hazards, no matter how organic the product. Beneficial insects are still susceptible to the repellent properties that work against pests. Always spray when bees have completed their pollination routes for the day and check for ladybugs, transferring them to a safer perch before applying the right organic pesticide.

Remember that gardening seems to work best when more than one course of action is taken, so in conjunction with practicing companion planting, beneficial insects and using the right pesticide, consider the following pest control barriers:

  • Salt, which dehydrates and kills slugs and snails when sprinkled around plants
  • Floating row covers or netting that will keep flying insects at bay
  • Aluminum foil wrapped around plant stems to impede vine borers

Organic gardening methods continue to evolve as more and more people become interested in how food is grown and concerned with the amount of chemicals being used in today’s agricultural industry. Ensuring success in the organic garden is not as hard as it seems, when one plans for and practices a well-informed approach for a healthier, more productive garden free of pests.