Pest Control In The Garden: Natural Solutions For A Healthy Garden

Chemicals have been used for many years to help remove pests, but as awareness is growing on the impact these chemicals have on the environment, more people are turning to natural methods. The best way to keep your plants healthy is by maintaining good cultivation practices and sanitation, but even with the best will in the world pests can still occur. Once they take hold, diseases are incredibly hard to control so prevention really is the best cure. Let’s have a look at some of the best ways to control pests and diseases.

Organic Pest Control

If you can, nipping pests in the bud before they get the chance to expand is key. Sticky traps or pheromone traps are best for this - whitefly and plum moth are particularly good. While the traps won’t completely kill the large numbers, they will help to stop the pest population growing.

Mechanical removal is the main way to remove pests (just make sure you wear some gloves while doing so!). Infestations of pests like greenfly are easy to remove by spraying them with water, and slugs are big enough to be removed by hand.

Although this may seem a little odd, the introduction of predatory organisms can actually help keep pests at bay. This is particularly useful if you have a greenhouse and can contain the pests, whereas outdoors it is harder to match the vulnerable stage of the pest’s lifecycle.

Heat treatments are another way that you can control pests, mainly those living in bulbs and herbaceous perennials. Hot water treatment is really effective against white rust and eelworm in chrysanthemums.

Organic Disease Control

When it comes to disease control with plants, you will struggle to completely eradicate it once a disease has set in, so think about ways you can reduce the spread instead. Cleaning up old leaves and debris will help with this, as will removing diseased sections of plants by pruning them at the branch collar. With soil-borne diseases, make sure you remove any infected roots when digging out the plants.

Adding organic matter is another way to reduce the spread of diseases in plants. Mulch is great to stop disease spores splashing back onto other plants - this works really well with black spot spores on roses, and prevents them re-infecting spring growth. Green manure can also help to fight fungal pathogens due to the creation of micro-organisms as the manure decomposes.

Crop rotation is another way to reduce disease in vegetable plots. This will help to starve soil-borne diseases, as well as providing extra nutrition for the new crop.

Naturally Derived Pest Control Products

There are lots of pest control solutions that you can make at home, and most of these derive from animal or plant materials so are easy to get hold of:

Organic controls

Insecticides made from natural products are much kinder to the environment and are more biodegradable. They still poison the pests that they come into contact with though, so are very effective.

Oils and soaps

Vegetable oils, animal oils and soaps (a.k.a. surfactants) are great for removing the oxygen in the air surrounding the pests, smothering them. However, you do have to be careful using oils and soaps as they will kill any insects in the vicinity, even those that are beneficial to your plants.

Home brews

Many people are turning to home concoctions to help with pest control in their gardens. A mixture of essential oils and washing up liquid should be avoided as these can harm the wider environment. It is always best to check with a professional gardener before pouring your home brew over all of your plants.

Companion Planting

Some plants actually have naturally repellent properties that can help prevent pests from spreading. By interplanting these with plants that are susceptible to pests, you can naturally reduce the levels of pests in your garden. Here are a couple of examples of great companion plants:

·       Marigolds - these vibrant yellow flowers repel nematodes, aphids, whiteflies and more

·       Nasturtiums - these act as a trap crop, attracting aphids away from other plants

·       Mint - with its strong aroma, mint repels ants, aphids and cabbage moths

So, there you have it, some organic ways to control pests in your garden to keep it healthier. If you are really struggling with an overload of pests, remember you can always use netting too. This will keep birds off your plants though, so may upset the food chain and leave you with more pests!

Share this post