Organic Gardening in an Urban Setting

Organic Pest Control and Integrated Pest Management

Sprays and powders you can make Pest Management Solutions  

Management of any pest problem in your garden is not just a matter of spray it and forget it.



The main key to pest management is keeping a clean and healthy garden plot to start with. Healthy plants and soil do not attract pests. Garden pests gravitate to places where they can obtain the type of food they need to survive. This means sickly plants and soil may have problems right next to plants that do not; even if they are of the same species or are in the same plot.



Pesticides are a last resort. The keys to good pest management are as follows:

 1: Healthy soil equals healthy plants.

 2: Not all bugs are bad.

 3: Hand removal is cheap and environmentally sound.

 4: Not everything you eat (bug or person) is good for you.

  Healthy soil is soil free of weeds, fungus; and disease. The easiest thing to do this time of year is to get up every morning and go to your garden. Stand there and take a look at your plot. Are there weeds? Is there mildew? See any bugs? How about soil fungi?

   Don't water yet. Pull the weeds. Weeds; which are any plant no matter what, that are growing in a place that you don't want them to grow, have to be removed. Many pests are attracted to your garden because you have given them the food that they crave. Weeds! Remove the weeds and you can slow down the pest problems. An alternative to this is to place “bait plants” in your plot. Bait plants are plants that you do not wish but that the pests just love. Let the bugs hang out there and you can simply remove the bait plant and most of your pest problem goes with them.

   Not all bugs are bad and not all organic treatments are good. Rhubarb is a perennial and mighty good eating if you stay away from the leaves which are VERY toxic. An infusion of rhubarb leaves sprayed on your garden flowers is considered an organic pest control method, however spray this on your food crops and illness or DEATH is sure to follow. The Home Hardware on the corner has sprays that, while organic, will kill your pests. They will also kill many other beneficial insects in your garden.

  If you choose to use these remedies please follow the instructions to the letter and understand that many of these potions are indiscriminate. THEY KILL EVERYTHING. Encouraging good bugs is a sure fire way to control the bad ones. For example: ladybugs eat aphids. Encourage ladybugs and you control your aphids.

  Encouraging beneficial insect populations can be accomplished by supplying them with plants that they like such as bee balm or dill. Discouraging harmful insects can be done the same way by planting onions, garlic and other plants that they do not have a taste for.

   Nothing beats hand removal. See a pest; pick it off. Simple. Cheap. Environmentally sound. The same is true for mold, disease, mildew and all the rest. You don't like it. Remove it. When do you do this? First thing in the morning. Gardeners get up before dawn and hit their plots before the sun gets too high. Mornings suck for a lot of people and pests too. When it gets too hot they hide under leaves; in the soil, the dark of your mulch and compost. This is the time to find and identify them. You cannot stop what you cannot identify.

   The early morning is also the time to water your garden. Deep early morning watering will help your plants develop a strong root system that is more disease resistant. Water the soil not the plant. It is the soil that feeds your plants and provides them with the nutrients that they need not the water that you supply them. The water dissolves the nutrients in the soil that your plants need to thrive. Plants do not grow in the sun. They grow in the dark and use the sunlight to make the chemical food that allows them to grow. Watering during the day stunts root growth because the water evaporates in the sunlight and does not penetrate the soil deep enough to promote good root growth. One “pest” problem people see is small round holes in the leaves of your prized food stock. A lot of the time this is nothing more that the holes burnt into the leaves from mid to late day watering. Think of a magnifying glass that you hold in the sun to burn holes in a piece of paper. Works on leaves too. Got slugs? Snails? They love that late evening watering. Molds? Mildew? Same thing. What about bugs? A lot of them are getting a drink from that lovely evening watering that you are giving them. The water is there all night without evaporation and makes a lovely breeding pool for some forms of insects.

   I love ice cream. I can't get enough. Especially in the summer. Cold, wet, sugary. Nature's perfect food. My buddy Ed is allergic to lactose (milk). He can't stand the stuff. Most garden pests can be thought of in the same way. What one loves another cannot eat without a whole lot of pain. Garlic, onions, chives, hot peppers; these are foods that you may like but a lot of bugs cannot tolerate. Place them liberally throughout your plot. Marigolds, bee balm, nasturtiums and other flowering plants are things that many garden pests can't handle but bees, butterflies, beneficial wasps and ladybugs love. These “bugs” help to pollinate your food crops and help control those pests that eat them. Discouraging pests and encouraging useful insects is a major step to growing a great garden. The less chemical used on a garden the better. As I have stated before; many organic control methods for pests also KILL THE GOOD BUGS.

   OK You have good soil, you pick weeds, you water in the early morning, you plant bait and control plants; and you still have pest problems. The next step is to decide weather or not your pest problem is one you can tolerate. Small discolorations and blemishes are really not a problem for our gardens. We are growing food to eat not to sell. Prize turnips are not our priority. Tasty chemical free ones are. A small blemish on a leaf is not a reason to spray the crap out of the food we feed ourselves, our friends, and our children but if you must there are a few rules to follow:

  1. Test your remedy on a few leaves first. Start weak and work up.

  2. Make sure you are combating the correct pest with your potion.

  3. Spray in the early morning so plants can dry by evening.

  4. Preventative sprays must be reapplied after the rain.

  5. Soap in a remedy is used to make a liquid stick to a plant as well as kill bugs. This means that it can also harm bugs you do not want targeted.

  6. Some sprays can be harmful to people and your pets or wildlife even if they are certified for organic gardening. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU USE.

  7. Wash all produce before consumption. Chile flavored cucumbers or tomatoes anyone?

.Sprays and powders you can make Pest Management Solutions