The toughest thing about gardening—aside from getting plants to grow—is keeping the pests off them. Between the weeding and the watering, gardeners have their hands full with growing their organic produce and pretty flowers. However, there is a war happening over your garden about who gets to eat the plant. A war between man and bug, it is bloody and never ending. These can be easily dealt with chemical pesticides, but what is the point of growing your own fresh produce if it has the same chemicals the store bought stuff does. As they say, the best defense is a good offence, so here are some natural ways to deal with common garden pests.
There are thousands of different pests that can launch hungry attacks at your garden. Of course, this also varies by region and climate. You cannot have a specific fight for all of them, so here are some general rules to help keep pests away from your plants.
Avoid watering the foliage of a plant. It is easy and possibly a little bit fun to take the hose and make it rain all over your garden. however, the water droplets that cling to the leaves of these plants are essentially a dinner and drinks for bugs. When possible, move the leaves aside and water directly at the base of the plant. Plants absorb water from the roots, so you are only just making it a target by watering the leaves.
Inspect your plants. For those who have a particularly large garden, this can be a mighty task. however, if you have an insect problem, be sure to check the plant for disease, damage, and discoloration. Gardeners should also check the undersides of the leaves for insects and eggs they may have lain.
Prune diligently. For a healthy plant, make sure you are always quick to remove leaves that are damaged, diseased, and already pest ridden. A few small holes chewed in the leaves by pests are alright, but when it is more holed than Swiss cheese, it is time to pluck them away. Of course, after enough of this, your plant will be a lost cause.
Alcohol Oil Spray
Mix 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and 1 quart of water. Mix these ingredients together and shake often to keep it mixed. This is not a preventative spray. If your plants are already infected, spray this mixture onto the inspects or the plant. Mayn different kinds of inscets find this deadly.
Surprisingly, sprinkling cornmeal around the base of your plant will keep many insects at bay including cutworms. Even better, if it worked into the soil, it attracts a fungus that actually kills fungi that cause disease in plants.
Slugs and Snails
These are a destructive force in many regions. Of course, the old beer trap works well for this. Pour some beer in a shallow dish and sink it into the ground, they will crawl right in and die. Since snails and slugs like wet soil and leaves, if you have a serious problem with them year and year, you may want to rework your garden into a raised garden bed lined with rough gravel. The steeper the climb, the more deterred the slugs and snails will be.
Another way to keep them at bay is to water in the morning. Snails are more active at night and watering at the end of the day will attract them.
I have also heard that lining your garden with copper tape is a sure fire way to keep snails and slugs out of your garden, however I have not tried it.
Aphids are small black bugs that enjoy feasting by sucking the sap from the stems and leaves of plants. If you ignore an aphid problem, say good bye to your garden. Not only will they weaken a plant, but they also spread disease to plants. If you leave them, they will multiply and run rampant.
A nice natural remedy for these jerks is to obtain some tomato leaves and soak them in water. Aphids absolutely hate tomatoes, so spraying this mixture on infected plants will drive them away. You can also try planting marigolds to attract them away from your other plants.
I haven't had to tangle with aphids since I was a child for one reason, during the summer years we started getting obscene amount of ladybugs. Ladybugs love to prey on aphids. If you have a serious problem, you can buy ladybugs online or from a nursery. They pose no harm to your crops. However, avoid Asian ladybugs, those suckers bite people.
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Cabbage worms may look like cut little caterpillars, until one day you start noticing holes in your cabbage, lettuce, tomato plants, and broccoli. These worms are the larvae of the pretty white moths you can spot near your garden, that is how you know they will soon become a menace. They start with the leaves, but can burrow into the innards as well.
The best thing you can do for these is to thoroughly check your plant. Check the underside for worms and the stems for eggs. If you find them, rub off the eggs and euthanize the worms (or take them far away if you are kind).
Every plant with leaves is under threat from leaf miners. The start at very tiny flies who lay their eggs on your plants. When those eggs hatch, they burrow into the leaves and eat between the layers of the leaf tissue.
These can be tricky and often confused as disease. If a portion of your leaf looks thin and wilty, you have a leaf miner. Inspect it slowly, you can sometimes actually see the larvae inside it.
The only way to treat these crafty fellows is to pluck the leaf, sadly. If the plant gets too infested, your plant may be a wash and should be removed before they can lay more eggs and infect the rest of the garden. Be sure to never compose infected leaves, as leaf miners could be present in your garden next year for it.