Pests can be a problem, especially in food gardens. Here are ways to control pests without resorting to toxic chemicals.
Companion Planting: Plants such as onions, garlic, mint, oregano, basil, thyme, and chives repel many common garden pests.
Ladybugs: Ladybugs are voracious consumers of aphids, spider mites, and other pests. You can purchase them at garden supply stores or attract them by growing plants such as dill and fennel.
Birds: Avian visitors, which also eat plenty of garden pests including slugs, can be encouraged to visit by growing native shrubs, trees, flowers, and ivy and providing bird feeders.
Natural Insecticide: CBC News Online offers the following recipe for homemade insecticide: “Pulverize in a blender a couple of whole cayenne peppers, a large onion and a whole bulb of garlic with a little water. Cover this mash with a gallon of water, let stand 24 hours and strain.”
Oils Sprays: Oil-based horticultural sprays such as Neem oil can be used to suffocate garden pests.
Plant Health and Hygiene: Healthy plants are less likely to suffer infestations. Grow native plants and give them the type of soil and fertilizer they need, sufficient space, and a location where they’ll get the right amount of sun. Removing diseased or unhealthy plants and other debris promptly is also beneficial.
Parasitic Nematodes: These tiny parasites, available at garden supply stores, kill pests such as corn earworms, squash vine borers, root maggots, cutworms, weevils, and soil dwelling grubs.
Beer: Slugs love beer. Provide a shallow dish of it in the garden and they will drink themselves to death. Or better yet, spray beer on your weeds and have slugs do your weeding for you.
Floating Row Covers: This translucent material, sold by the yard, can be cut to the desired length and used as an insect barrier.
Sticky Traps: Sticky traps are made of rigid material coated in a sticky substance. There are different colors available to attract different types of pests.
“Organic Pest-Control Techniques,” Organic Gardening, 2011. http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/organic-pest-control-techniques?page=0,0
CBC News, “Pesticide Recipes,” 23 May 2003. http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/pesticides/recipes.html
Ford, S. (2003). 50 Ways to Kill a Slug. London: Octopus Publishing Group, Ltd.
HGTV, “Effective Fungicides,” n.d. http://www.hgtv.com/landscaping/effective-fungicides/index.html
Nature Canada, “Tips for Natural Pest Control,” July 2009. http://www.naturecanada.ca/enews_jul09_pestcontrol.asp
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