For many people, having an organic garden in their backyard is not only about saving mother earth, but it is a chance to grow their own pesticide-free vegetables and fruits. Organic gardening is a natural way of growing food crops without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It is not only a safe way of farming but also does no harm to the soil and the environment.
The advantages of going organic are many, besides improving the environment, it also has both physical and mental benefits. Research has shown that organic produce has higher levels of vitamin C and minerals that can help the body fight against cancer and cardiovascular disease. Long term, you can also save a lot of money on your grocery bills.
The biggest challenge that both seasoned and new gardeners face is having pests destroy their plants but worry not, there are a few natural pest control methods that can be used to keep the bugs at bay.
Chemical pesticides are not a good option as they expose you to a lot of health risks and they are often not effective. After some time, pests usually develop resistance to them. Pesticides don’t choose between the bad and the good pests, it kills them all.
Using pest control methods can however be avoided if care is taken from the beginning. This can be achieved by
- Good soil preparation
- Ensuring there is proper sunlight
- Good watering conditions
- Using appropriate organic fertilizer
Sometimes even after carefully doing the above, pests still find their way to your garden, in such a case you can use the following natural methods to keep them at bay.
1. Companion Planting
Companion planting is a traditional technique that has been used for a long time; it involves planting two or three plants near each other. This helps in repelling different types of pests as each plant produces a different smell. A good example is the smell of garlic, which repels potato bugs and bean beetles. Therefore, planting garlic, potatoes and beans in close proximity, gives you a natural pest control.
2. Soap and Water Mixture
When you have a large area infested with pests like aphids, mites and mealybugs, you can make a mixture of soap and water and spray the area with the solution. This dehydrates the pests, killing them or forcing them to leave your garden.
3. Diatomaceous Earth as a natural pesticide
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a powder made from fossils called diatoms. Diatoms are made of tiny sharp skeletal pieces which cut the pests body creating wounds which let body fluid out leading to dehydration and finally death, leaving your garden in peace.
4. Neem oil as an insecticide
Neem oil is another safe alternative that organic gardeners can use. Neem oil is absorbed by the plants affecting the eating habits of the insects. It also interferes with the insect’s life cycle making it hard for them to grow and lay eggs.
Every organic garden has its own kind of pests and insects. So you should observe keenly which kind of pests are in your garden and then use the best method to help you get rid of them. There are many natural pest control methods but the above four should give you a starting point as they are accessible and easy to implement.