In Written by – Kaitlynn from MIgardener
In the beautiful world of organic gardening, one day, you will inevitably encounter pesky bugs who will want to make themselves at home in your freshly grown fruits and veggies. This kind of intrusion can be annoying and upsetting at times after spending countless hours of work in the garden. Here, we will explore the wonderful world of organic pesticides. There are a handful of options out there for gardeners who want to get pests out while doing their best for the planet at the same time.
Fun science fact: DE is a sedimentary rock that is made up of fossilized diatoms or microalgae. These mini algae have a rough and abrasive exterior, but only on a microscopic level!
To Use: The powdery and microscopically abrasive nature of DE makes it an ideal pesticide. DE is used to kill a specific family of pests called arthropods (a fancy word for creepy crawly critters with hard exoskeletons). Diatomaceous earth, once applied to the ground surrounding your plants, will coat any unwanted beetles, mites, wasps, fleas, etc. that might attempt to hurt your harvest. DE coats and infiltrates the shell of these pests and slowly dehydrates them for long term results. You won’t see immediate results, but after about a week, you will see a noticeable difference in the garden. The best part about DE is that it is entirely safe to use around pets, children, and beneficial insects. Diatomaceous earth will not harm precious pollinators or beautiful butterflies.
Do not use: As a fungicide: DE is a pesticide only. It will not work as a fungicide and will successfully prevent powdery mildew or blight. Application, for this reason, would result in a waste of product. Remember not to use DE as a broad-spectrum insecticide.
Planting to add biodiversity is the favorite choice for organic gardeners who prefer a hands-off method when it comes to pesticides.
One of the most beneficial gardening tricks you can use to keep pests from the garden is the high-intensity intercropping method. This method’s philosophy is slightly different than companion planting because it relies more on the scientific evidence of the benefits of biodiversity instead of suggesting that plants communicate with each other telepathically. High intensity intercropping allows you to grow as much food as possible in a given space, while also preventing pests from detecting their favorite snacks! Planting strong-smelling flowers, herbs, and onions near other varieties like tomatoes will mask the smell of the pheromones that plants give off that attract pests. Overall, planting marigolds and things with strong scents near other vegetables will not affect their flavor. This will also help invite beneficial pollinators in and help to keep pests out.
Used as a pesticide since the 1920s, Thuricide is an organic product used to get rid of pesky caterpillars. Once ingested, this bacteria will stop the life cycle of cabbage loopers, leaf curlers, tomato hornworms, tent caterpillars, and others. Thuricide will not harm beneficial insects or earthworms.
To use: Dilute this product with water. Then, spray onto the leaves to will infect the little buggers. 2tbs to every gallon of water (1/2 tsp is completely ineffective).
Native to India, neem oil has been used for centuries for a variety of reasons. It is derived by pressing the seeds of the evergreen neem tree, and has a strong scent that garden pests hate!
The strong scent of neem oil repels a wide variety of pests and is especially useful in the fight against aphids, whiteflies, fungus gnats, and Japanese beetles. Neem oil will not harm beneficial insects, birds, or mammals if it is consumed diluted or in small amounts. Neem also acts as a fungicide and helps to prevent black spot, powdery mildew, and canker.
To use: Use sparingly, as an excessive application could cause plant stress. We recommend using cold-pressed neem oil. Only cold-pressed neem will contain the chemical azadirachtin, which halts the egg-laying cycle of aphids. Mix 1tbs with every gallon of water and add 4-5 drops of natural dish soap to help emulsify the mixture. Spray at the base of plants and cover the underside of the leaves.
In the same realm as the intercropping method, using essential oil blends on your plants can help mask their scent from incoming pests.
Creating your own at-home essential oil spray can be a quick and easy way to keep pests out of the garden. The best oils to use are a mixture of peppermint and lemongrass; these keep squash vine borers away exceptionally well. Scents like lavender, rosemary, and thyme are fantastic scent masking agents in the garden. MIgardener has put together their favorite essential oil blend here. In the realm of organic pesticides, this method is not as effective as the others listed in this post. However, it is still a good option for controlling pests.
To use: Mix in 1 tbs. of essential oil blent into 1 gallon of water with 2-3 drops of dish soap before shaking well. Apply to the base of the plant and spray tops and undersides of leaves until dripping wet. Re-apply every week in peak season for best results.
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