We all know that pest control is one of the important aspects of gardening. This can be done through biological, chemical or physical means. As chemical pest control involves the use of chemicals that can be detrimental to human health, beneficial insects and other organisms. Long-term use of most of chemical pesticides may harm the ecosystem as a whole. So, many people are turning to organic gardening, which is a concept of growing crops without using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. So, organic gardening pest control involves natural methods to deter pests from attacking the plants. Let us take a look at the various measures employed, so as to control pests, as per the concept of organic gardening.
Pest Control in Organic Farming
As mentioned above, organic pest control measures can be of different types. To start with, organic gardening aims at preventing the entry of pests. This is achieved by removing weeds completely, before planting. The soil is prepared with lots of organic matter and mulch, so that the plants grow healthy and strong. It is said that seaweed mulching is good for making the plants resistant to disease. The infected and weak plants are removed and destroyed at the very beginning. Removal of weeds and debris at regular intervals is one of the golden rules for preventing pests. As wet foliage can be an attraction for some pests, it is always better to water the plants early in the morning, so that there is no moisture on them by night. While, these preventive measures are found to be beneficial, we cannot rule out the chances of pest attack. So, organic garden pesticides are used for getting rid of pests. The following are some methods employed for organic gardening pest control.
Predatory Insects: In case of organic gardening, biological pest control is one of the preferred methods. This include use of predatory insects that will feed on the pests. You may either buy them from garden stores or attract them by planting some specific plants. For example, ladybugs can control aphids, mites and scales. and they can be attracted to your garden by planting daisies, yarrow and tansy. Other predatory insects include certain types of wasps, lacewings, praying mantis and hoverflies.
Beneficial Nematodes: Nematodes are roundworms that are said to be one of the most diverse animals on earths. Some of these microscopic worms are found to be parasitic for humans, animals and even plants. Those parasitic to insects are made use of in organic garden pest control. Such nematodes can be bought from garden centers. They are available in the form of powder that has to be mixed with water, which is sprayed on the soil. These nematodes carry a specific type of bacteria (Xenorhabdus bacteria), in their intestine and larynx. Once the nematodes enter the body of the host insects or larvae (like grub worms), the bacteria is released. The bacteria breaks down the internal organs of the host, thereby killing it. Thus beneficial nematodes are found to be beneficial in organic gardening pest control.
Cultural Methods: This involves removal of pests as well as the affected plants manually. Some people resort to rotate crops, so as to prevent pest attacks. Planting different crops year after year, reduces the chances of pest attacks. Another method is to grow plants other than the crops, so as to deter the pests. Some plants can ward off specific pests. For example, catnip, marigold, garlic and tansy, are found to deter potato bugs from potato plants. Some plants are grown as trap crops, along with the actual crops. The trap plants are those, which are relished by pests and once the pests gather and fed on the trap plants, such plants are removed and destroyed.
You may also prepare some homemade pesticides for controlling pests. You may come across several organic gardening pest control recipes, that can be prepared with some of the common household materials. You may prepare an homemade organic pesticide by mixing water and garlic powder. Hot chili peppers are also effective for controlling pests. Take two cups of water and mix it with a paste made of half cup of chopped chili peppers. Allow it to sit for a day and after that strain the mixture and combine with two tablespoons of dish soap (without bleach). This solution is said to be excellent for controlling bugs. You must gain a thorough knowledge about the specific pest control methods relevant for your crop, beforehand. It will be better to contact a horticulturist, who can guide you in this task.