12 ways to deal with garden pests naturally

June 23, 2015

As an organic gardener, you don't have to sit back and do nothing when your plants are attacked by animals, birds and insects. Try these organic strategies to tackle garden pests in an environment-friendly way.

12 ways to deal with garden pests naturally

Natural pest management

  1. Choose plant varieties that are resistant to disease – they will survive problems that less robust plants may succumb to.
  2. Walk around the garden every day to check for problems. Tackling pests and diseases at the first sign of trouble will give you a head start.
  3. Remove the pests you can see by hand. In the first stages of infestation, this method works well for leaf-munching caterpillars, snails and slugs.
  4. Drape lightweight netting over plants to protect them from birds and other small animals. Check the netting daily to make sure nothing is trapped in it.
  5. While they are becoming established, protect young trees and shrubs from larger animals by circling them with wire netting or sturdy plastic.
  6. Surround plants at risk from slugs and snails with wood ash, sawdust, blood and bone meal, lime, or diatomaceous earth (garden grade, not swimming-pool grade).
  7. Prevent damage to ripening fruit by covering it with a cloth or waxed paper bag. This is a great way to stop fruit flies from ruining tomatoes, peaches or nectarines.
  8. Use Dipel (Bacillus thuringiensis), a naturally occurring bacterium that controls caterpillars without harming other insects or mammals. It is safe to spray on vegetables or other plants under attack.
  9. If you don't have enough beneficial insects in your garden, buy some. Some commercially available species include Cryptolaemus montrouzieri ladybirds to control mealy bugs, Chilocorus species beetles for scale insects, lacewings to control aphids and Phytoseiulus persimilis mites for two-spotted mites.
  10. Grow plants such as Queen Anne's lace and elderberry to attract birds and beneficial insects to your garden in a natural way.
  11. Save seeds to help you achieve a self-perpetuating garden. Heirloom varieties may be resistant to pests and diseases; they are available from many nurseries.
  12. Make homemade sprays and repellents and use them to keep specific pests at bay.

Bonus: 5 homemade sprays and repellents

1. Use chilies and soap to combat ants and caterpillars.

  • Chop up a handful of fresh red chilies.
  • Place them in a spray bottle with some grated pure soap and water.
  • Shake the bottle well and use the solution as a spray.

2. Use detergent and a yellow container to combat aphids.

  • Fill a bright yellow container with water, then add 15 millilitres (1 tablespoon) of colourless detergent.
  • Place the container near the affected plants.
  • The yellow container will attract aphids and they'll drown in the water.

3. Use pyrethrum and soap to combat aphids, mites and other sap-suckers.

  • Pour 1 litre (4 cups) of hot, soapy water over 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of pyrethrum flowers.
  • Allow to stand for 1 hour.
  • Strain the solution and spray it on affected areas.

4. Use baking soda and fish emulsion to combat black spot and powdery mildew on roses.

  • Add 15 grams (1 tablespoon) of baking soda and 15 millilitres (1 tablespoon) of fish emulsion to 4.5 litres (1 gallon) of water.
  • Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
  • Spray the roses 3 times in the first 2 weeks, then weekly.

5. Use seaweed to combat fungus and bacterial disease.

  • Put some seaweed into a bucket and cover with water.
  • After a few weeks, dilute the mixture with water. It should be the colour of weak tea.
  • Pour the solution into a spray bottle and use it as needed.

If pests are giving you trouble in the garden, give these natural solutions a try for an eco-friendly alternative to commercial pesticides.

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