The popularity of organic gardening is on the rise, and with good reason. Organic gardening leverages the power of nature to ensure ongoing soil fertility and grow healthy plants that are resistant to pests and diseases. This article will focus on how to use organic methods for pest control to grow healthy vegetables, flowers, and more at home.
Unique Concerns for Indoor Gardens
Not everyone has the space for an outdoor garden, so many of today’s gardeners are turning to indoor methods for plant propagation and crop production. Growing indoors can substantially alleviate pest problems, although it won’t eliminate them. Growing indoors also creates unique challenges, so gardeners who plan to use this strategy should learn more about what kind of equipment they’ll need from Agron before they invest in lights, irrigation systems, and other necessities.
Physical barriers can effectively prevent the spread of many pests, including aphids, hornworms, cabbage moths, potato beetles, and others. Try installing floating row covers to keep these insects at bay, but don’t forget that most plants require insect pollination. Gardeners will need to remove their row covers when their crops begin to flower.
Organic insecticides contain ingredients derived from plants. Some are designed to treat multiple pests, while others are more specialized. One of the most popular organic insecticides, known in the West as neem oil, is derived from the tree Azadirachta indica, which is native to South Asia and India. Gardeners should start applying neem oil or another organic insecticidal spray at the first sign of a pest outbreak and should continue applications every week throughout the rest of the season. Remember that neem oil is a broad-spectrum insecticide, though, which means it will kill beneficial insects as well as pests.
Introducing Beneficial Insects
Mother Nature has her own ways of controlling pest outbreaks and organic gardeners can harness them to put a stop to crop destruction. Introducing parasitoid wasps or other predatory insects like ladybugs and lacewings to a garden can help to keep pest insects under control. Home gardeners can either purchase beneficial insects online and release them into their gardens or plant flowers that will attract them naturally.
Just like people and larger animals, insects can be deterred by scents that they consider unpleasant. Companion planting species like wormwood, chili peppers, and garlic can deter pests from entering the garden and destroying plants. Companion planting also has the benefit of diversifying the crop, which makes it more difficult for insect pests to find their preferred food sources and can reduce their spread, minimizing the damage to garden plants.
Soil health is one of the most important factors determining plants’ ability to naturally resist pests. Organic gardeners probably already know that they can support a healthy soil microbiome by adding plenty of nutrients and ensuring proper drainage, but those dealing with pests like root maggots, cutworms, and grubs can also introduce beneficial soil nematodes. These microorganisms are specialists, which means they only feed on a particular type of insect larva and will not adversely affect beneficial insect populations.
The Bottom Line
Organic gardening can be an incredibly satisfying hobby, but it can be frustrating when pests attack. Don’t just give up and reach for the nearest chemical insecticide. The pest control techniques described above may take some time to prove effective, but they will help organic gardeners keep insects under control and avoid significant crop losses.