By Demi Crawford :
A garden is a food source not only for humans but also for several other creatures that are a part of the natural world. And some of the so-called “part of nature” are what we refer to as garden pests — bugs, slugs, snails, aphids and several other creepy crawlies that do not care about anything except munching on those fresh greens.
But just because they are part of nature, they do not have to be tolerated. Naturally, people need remove these pests, or these creatures will eventually destroy the garden. The worst part? They will not stop; they will find a new habitat or a new “victim,” so to speak. Therefore, it’s time to roll up those sleeves, stand firm and fight!
Getting rid of garden pests does not need to involve chemical-based pesticides. There are several natural ways for people to keep their homegrown produce as healthy as possible while preventing or at last minimizing crop-destroying pests.
Prevention Is Always Better than Cure
The best way to deal with garden pests is to prevent these in the first place. You can do this by
- Growing healthy, disease free plants that are stronger and more vigorous. Start by making sure that the soil is healthy and organic through natural composting methods and mulching.
- Removing weak or affected plants. Regularly inspect for leaves, stems, etc., that are already weak or infected because they will attract more pests.
- Cleaning the garden. Free it from debris or weeds, which are breeding grounds for insects.
- Rotating the crops. Garden pests often are crop-specific, so mixing plants or rotating crops every year will avoid re-infestation.
- Using seaweed spray. Seaweed fertilizer in spray or mulch form not only will promote healthy development in plants but also repel slugs.
Call in the Natural Predators
Fight insects with insects and other animals. Attract the “good” insects that prey on the garden pests. Different predator species have different prey, so the type of predator you want to promote will depend on the type of pest you are dealing with. For instance, ladybugs and lacewings are common “good” predators that feed on mites, aphids, whiteflies and scale insects. These are attracted to Tansy, Yarrow and other Daisy family, so you might as well plant some in your garden. There are several online resources about how to attract natural predators for the pest you have in your garden.
Use Natural Repellents and Barriers
Although there are several commercial pest control products available in the market today, certain natural repellents actually can be grown in your garden as well. For instance, spearmint, peppermint and pennyroyal deter ants and aphids. Other plants such as catnip, basil, citronella and lemon grass will also naturally discourage pests. As well, planting carrots in toilet papers was found to prevent cutworms from getting to those orange root vegetables. Cutworms, earworms and others will stay away from plants that have been wet with water simmered with cedar twigs; snails will not dare to cross a line of lime; ants avoid cayenne pepper; and slugs loath coffee grounds and several other natural repellents and barriers you can actually use.
Bring Out Those Traps
There are several traps you actually can use to control or minimize the population of garden pests.
- Flypaper Trap — This is quite effective for whiteflies and aphids. In fact, yellow-colored or painted flat surfaces coated in any sticky substance will do the trick.
- Homemade Slug Trap — Pour some beer, grape juice or orange rinds into a shallow container (e.g. bowl or saucer). Slugs will flock into this trap, and you can get rid of them in the morning. They dive down and eventually drown.
- Nontoxic Apple Maggot Trap — An apple’s worst nightmare, apple maggots also affect other fruits such as pears, plums, blueberries and cherries. In less than two weeks, the eggs can hatch and find their way inside the fruit. Although this trap may not be as natural, it claims to be nontoxic. Just hang one trap/lure for approximately every 100 apples.
These are some of the easy ways to eliminate pests from the garden. However, if all else fails, the market is filled with pesticides that are labelled “organic” or “natural.” If you are going this route, it would be best to consult pest-control experts regarding which organic pesticide to use.
Demi Crawford is an animal expert and enthusiast. As the lead content curator for Dawson’s Australia, she has written several articles about it. In this article, she shares her expert tips on how to eliminate pests in the garden without having to use chemicals.