Organic seeds and seedlings are becoming more widely available for home gardens. You still pay a little more but it’s worth it for the health of your family and the planet. So if your values were green when you forked over the extra cash to start your garden, you definitely don’t want to turn yellow in the face of a few measly bugs that may be threatening your crops.
“Organic” Pest Control?
Our garden is bigger and better than ever this year thanks to the recycled steel planter boxes my husband installed in the spring. So finally we are feeding ourselves more than the voles! Yet at the beginning of this month I noticed that the aphids and spider mites were also enjoying our vegetable garden.
A woman at my local garden store tried to sell me all kinds of less-toxic but still toxic sprays that she referred to as “organic.” They aren’t, and since I wasn’t dealing with a full infestation I decided I didn’t need these products. Instead, I made my own spray, which I have been spraying religiously every night for about two weeks and have noticed the populations are dwindling.
Here’s my simple DIY spray:
4 cups water
2 teaspoons soap
5-10 drops of vegetable oil
Mix it in a spray bottle and shake it up before use. Spray it directly on the bugs you see. Check under the leaves because that’s where they like to hide.
This spray has been highly affective for us on aphids and spider mites because I started using it when populations were low and I’ve been consistent with it.
Not all insects are bad and some can actually help you get rid of the ones causing trouble. First you have to identify what’s eating your garden and then research the right beneficial insect to transform your archenemy into a delightful snack. However in most cases this works best as a supplemental strategy and not your main defense.
As we saw with our ladybugs, beneficial insects are not necessarily yard-loyal. To convince your beneficial bugs to stay, surround them with plants that they like. One of the best is sweet alyssum. It’s all the rage among beneficial bugs.
Calling in the Big Guns
If you are already have an infestation, you may need to consider a slightly more toxic approach but make sure the level of toxicity is in line with what’s needed. If the pests are not doing major damage, it may be better to just share your garden.
If they are doing damage you still don’t need a conventional pesticide. Look for solutions like Red Pepper Wax spray or Safer Brand pest control products. These are less toxic products but stronger than my DIY spray. You will still need to spray regularly, but you will most likely win the battle.
Don’t let the bugs defeat your organic Victory Garden! Keep it simple and nontoxic and be consistent. You’ll be harvesting the bounty in no time.