Whether you’re just beginning your gardening journey or you’ve been doing it for years, keeping pests away is probably the most challenging (and annoying) problem you’ll face.
There are a lot of products and pesticides on the market that help, but many of them aren’t sustainable and can harm pollinators and the environment. The good news is, there are also a lot of natural garden pest control remedies out there too, and they’re just as simple and effective! Here are a few environmentally friendly methods of stopping those pesky insects, fungi, and animals from getting at your crops:
Can I Strategically Plant My Garden to Control Pests?
Yes! The best way to control garden pests naturally is to be strategic during the planting process and prevent them from coming in the first place. Certain planting techniques discourage insects and wildlife from eating your produce. Here are a few best practices to get your garden off to a strong start:
Use Clean, Healthy Soil
Insects, fungi, and diseases love unhealthy and dead plants, which can draw them into your garden. Therefore, starting with organic, healthy soil that will help your plants grow fast and strong can help deter those pests right from the start. You can build a healthy soil by mixing in organic matter like compost and mulch.
Take Caution While Buying Seedlings and Plants
By introducing a new plant to your garden, you’re taking the risk of infecting other plants with whatever it is carrying. Therefore, make sure the seedlings or plants you buy are healthy and strong. Buy from a reputable source and avoid any seedlings that are lanky, pale, showing signs of disease, or (of course) infested with pests.
Rotate Your Crops
Insect pests are usually plant specific; they like to feed off the same plants each year. In order to avoid re-infestation of pests that have spent the off-season in your garden, rotate your plants so they are moved to a different location in the garden. For example, plant your tomatoes where your cucumbers were last year, and plant your cucumbers where your zucchinis were last year.
What Are the Best Natural Garden Pest Control Products?
Often, the best natural garden pest control products are homemade remedies. They’re inexpensive and you know what’s going in your garden. However, all pests are different, so a different remedy is needed for each one. Below are five formulas to manage the most common garden pests:
Natural Mixture to Control Mites in Your Garden
Put 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper, a few drops of Ivory dish soap, and a quart of water in a spray bottle. Let the ingredients sit overnight, then stir and spray affected plants. Make sure to shake the bottle often during application to keep the ingredients mixed.
Natural Mixture to Control Aphids and Mealybugs in Your Garden
Mix 1 tablespoon of canola oil, a few drops of Ivory dish soap, and a quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray the affected plants up and down to fully coat their tops and undersides.
Natural Mixture to Control Japanese Beetles in Your Garden
Bacillus popillae (commonly known as Milky Spore) targets and kills Japanese beetles. It comes in a powder that should be applied when the soil temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon to your garden every 4 feet, then water it into the ground. It will be effective in the soil for 10 years!
Natural Mixture to Control Fungal Diseases in Your Garden
Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda and a gallon of water in a spray bottle. Spray the affected area(s) every few days until the disease is gone.
Natural Mixture to Control Rodents in Your Garden
Soak a handful of cotton balls in peppermint oil, which can usually be found at health food stores. Scatter them in areas of activity.
4 Other Natural Garden Pest Control Tips
Besides strategic planting and using natural repellants, there are a few more sustainable ways you can keep pests away from your garden:
1. Water Plants in the Morning
First of all, photosynthesis occurs during the day, so plants need water early on in order to make that process the most efficient. Also, fungi and other diseases tend to grow best at night due to the cool and wet conditions, so watering your plants in the morning is best to keep plants healthy.
2. Pull Weeds Regularly
Weeds steal water from your plants and host pests and parasites that could migrate to your previously healthy crops. It’s important to pull them out of your soil regularly and completely — roots and all!
3. Clean Your Tools
This may go without saying, but clean your tools after dealing with any infested plants to avoid transferring pests or diseases.
4. Add Beneficial Insects
Ladybugs, praying mantises, and lacewings are your friends. They don’t harm your plants, and they eat the destructive insects. The best way to bring these insects in is to plant flowers they are attracted to, like daisies and asters, in your yard.
Like many things in life, the natural way is often the best way. Here at Couch Mountain, we value sustainability. When you join our sustainable community, you can live among others who prioritize the natural environment: in sustainable building practices, gardening opportunities, and appreciation of the outdoors. To learn more about life here, reach out to our team online today.
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