Going completely organic in your garden can be intimidating because of pests and how much harm they cause. Pests can be detrimental to crops and reduce yields and food security at all levels of agricultural production, whether in commercial or home gardens. Controlling pests with chemicals is what most people incorrectly believe to be the best solution. In fact, each year about 136 million pounds of pesticides are used in home gardens which is nearly thrice the quantity used by farmers. What most people fail to realize is that chemical pest control poses a great risk to the crops/plants in their gardens, your family, existing wildlife and the natural environment.
Toxic pesticides are more easily misused or over applied and can cause water pollution through runoff, affecting human and overall organism health in many ways. As such, it is a farsighted decision to prioritize natural pest control in organic gardening and look for how best to minimize the use of these chemical pesticides.
Natural pest control can target specific pests and is much cheaper than the total cost of purchase and application of harmful pesticides. Implementing some of these crop management methods can help keep crops healthy and well-protected from damaging pests without using toxic pesticides.
Keep a Well-maintained Garden
An organic garden that is healthy and well-maintained is the best defense from pests. Keeping a well-maintained growing environment for your organic plants decreases the likelihood of needing chemical pest control.
Proper soil balance and continuous removal of weak plants that could be infected will reduce the chances of attracting diseases and pests. Pull out these weeds and dispose away from the garden area.
Nurture Healthy Soil
Organic soil that is naturally treated with compost is a great way to develop strong and hearty plants that can resist predators. Mulching and top-dressing your garden’s soil regularly with natural fertilizers or compost also go a long way to encourage the growth of healthy, organic crops.
Interplant and Rotate Crops
Insect pests are typically plant-specific so by rotating and intercropping, pests are less likely to spread throughout a specific crop. Mixing garden plants with vegetables also allows different nutrients to be taken away and added from the soil at a time. Plant rotation will also break the life cycle of insect pests over a year, which would often over-winter in the nearby soil beds. Introducing diverse plants can often help fix helpful nutrients and bacteria, as well as add natural enemies to fight off pests that often thrive in monoculture and increase crop yield.
Keep Foliage dry
Watering your garden must be done early in the day so that foliage will be dry for the rest of the time. Wet foliage can attract fungus and insects that weaken and damage plants. A drip-irrigation system could be helpful in watering the roots of the plants without getting the foliage wet.
Introduce Beneficial Insects
Investing in methods to attract beneficial insects and introduce them to your garden, can help decrease or completely eradicate harmful pests. Beneficial insects can be bought from catalogs and work best to target specific insects and their larvae so it is necessary to understand which pests you are trying to eliminate.
Try Homemade, Non-Toxic Remedies
Homemade, non-toxic remedies are inexpensive and these materials provide good control from insect pests. They control these harmful insects on your organic garden without posing any threat to the health of pets or people in the home. Most of these homemade remedies usually contain mixes of noxious ingredients that are readily available in the household like cayenne pepper, dish soap, oil, milk, water, etc. Other natural remedies include milky spore (granules best used for killing grubs and Japanese beetles), diatomaceous earth (a mechanical killer containing tiny sharp particles that kills several common insects), powdery mildew (works great on infested crops) and lime sulfur mixed with dormant oil (used on dormant fruit plant branches and trunks to help suffocate insect eggs).
These are only a few of the non-toxic remedies that can be concocted in your home to help control pests and improve organic gardening. Making these remedies with your own materials and finding other non-chemical solutions provides less harmful methods of pest treatment and fewer health implications than toxic pesticides.
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