Organic Pest Control
Starting a garden comes with its fair share of joys and pains. Along with the fun of gardening comes the difficulty of dealing with hungry bugs that are looking to devour your garden. Fortunately, by understanding how to leverage Mother Nature, you can implement a full pest control strategy in your garden, without toxic chemicals.
Yellow-necked caterpillars defoliating a blueberry bush. According to NC State Extension, if the caterpillars are localized to one or several bushes, hand removal or pruning is sufficient to control the population.
By introducing good bugs like ladybugs and lacewings into your garden’s ecosystem, you will be able to keep the bad bug population down. These bugs act as a twenty-four hour security force, patrolling your garden for menacing pests that seek to destroy your wonderful plant life. You can attract these natural predators to your garden by planting insectary plants or purchasing them.
Companion Planting with Insectary Plants
These are the plants that attract beneficial insects (natural predators) and should comprise 5-10% of your garden in order to provide ongoing support for the beneficial insects in your garden. These plants provide proper food and shelter for the insects that you want to have in your garden. Keeping the beneficial insects happy means they will stay longer and patrol your garden more effectively over a period of time.
In addition to using natural predators, row covers provide great protection from pests, as well as harsh weather. These are fairly simple to install and provide all of the proper nutrients to your garden through the porous material, while keeping out pests. They even provide frost protection during winter months, if you get a heavy-weighted cover. The covers come in various weights depending on your needs and how much protection you want from the elements.
Applying Diatomaceous Earth
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is beneficial and 100% safe for your garden, but dangerous to pests as it punctures their exoskeletons causing dehydration and death. This is an affordable and effective way to organically manage pests in your garden. Since diatomaceous earth loses its effectiveness when wet, re-apply after rainfall.