While organic gardening is highly rewarding when it comes to the end product, keeping your garden safe from all the pests and ensuring a decent yield can be extremely hard work. Luckily, people have been doing this for long enough to develop very effective, completely organic means of keeping the garden as pest free as possible.
There are a number of organic pesticides that you can use to protect your garden from grabby insects. You could spread sulfur powder around your plants or spray them with a solution of nicotine, which you can purchase or make yourself by soaking tobacco leaves in hot water. A substance called Neem, derived from a specific type of trees has been shown to be a powerful pesticide, without being toxic to mammals, just like another often used organic pesticide, pyrethrum.
Despite the effectiveness and relatively low levels of harmful impact of organic pesticides, they do have their drawbacks. That’s why people found another way of staving off pests. Instead of using different kinds of pesticides, some growers have been fighting fire with fire, i.e. using insects to sort out their pest problems. Three types of insects have been employed in this manner, known as three P’s – parasites, predators and pollinators. Parasites use pests as hosts, and in time, inhibit their reproductive capabilities, or outright kill their host; predators, like soldier bugs or lady bees, eat pests; while pollinators, like bees, for instance, help the plants’ reproductive processes, and so decrease the negative influence of the pests.
In order to ensure the presence of these beneficial insects in their garden, people have been introducing various plants that attract them. The plants need to be cycled in such a manner that there is always plenty of food for these beneficial insects during the critical times of the year. Different plants have been used for this purpose, including celery, blue lace flower, gopher stopper, and many others.
Another way that adding different plants to your garden can help is by making sure to plant species that will act as a sacrificial offering for the pests. By giving them an additional source of food, which can sometimes be much more attractive to pest than your crops, you are diverting the attention of the insects, and reducing their harmful influence.
Repelling the Pests:
Naturally, if you are dealing with pests who are making colonies in bushes, or somewhere away from your crops, a couple of minutes with a cordless hedge trimmer might thin out their numbers significantly, by destroying their habitat, but there might be other ways get them to leave your garden.
Just like some plants are capable of attracting certain types of insects, others could be used to repel the unwanted ones. The effectiveness of plants such as sage, geraniums and borage when it comes to repelling pests has been hotly debated, and while it has not been confirmed with the satisfactory level of certainty that these plants are actually capable of keeping the pests away, it doesn't really hurt to have them in your garden, as long as they are not depriving your primary crops of the needed resources.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.