Not everyone wants to use pesticides in their garden. Not only can pesticides lose efficacy over time, but there are potential long-term side effects for humans. Some bugs benefit your plants, and pesticides don’t pick and choose what bugs they kill. If you prefer a natural and organic way to control the pests in your garden, here are a few ideas that may help:
Floating Row Covers
Floating row covers are a translucent polyester fabric that you can lay over your plants to keep out pests and protect them from the elements. The material is porous, so it still allows water to come through and lets in around 80% of natural light. There are lighter and heavier covers you may use depending on the season and your preferences. You can also use floating row covers to prolong the life of your plants through the changing seasons. The covers can prevent light frost from killing your plants.
The floating row cover keeps animals like deer, rabbits, squirrels, and more from making a quick snack of your plants. If the cover is secure, it will also keep out most pests. These covers may keep pests like aphids, tomato hornworms, cabbage moths/worms, potato beetles, and more from destroying your garden.
Consider using supports to keep the covers from directly touching your plant. You still want your plants to be able to breathe and grow beneath the cover! Many people use semi-circular wires to support their floating row covers. You will also want to use some stakes or something weighted like stones to keep the fabric in place. Bugs will find a way to your plants if there are openings they can get through! Make sure your covers are secured to reduce the risk.
Insecticidal soap is ideal for a sudden onslaught of soft-bodied pests like aphids and mites. Pests like aphids are drawn to the moisture from your plants, and the insecticidal soap will dry out the bugs and kill them. Be careful because it may also dry out your plants.
This soap often comes as a concentration, so you will need to dilute it with water before use. You’ll need a clean sprayer bottle to apply the solution to your plants. Be careful not to use too much insecticidal soap because it can cause leaf burns.
You can also make your insecticidal solution at home with products you may already have. You’ll need dish soap (make sure it doesn’t contain any bleach), distilled water, and a little vegetable oil. The vegetable oil will help the solution stay on your plants longer!
With any insecticidal soap or solution, you spray on your plants, you will need to reapply every few days or after every rainfall.
Introduce “Good” Garden Insects
Consider unleashing bugs that are good for your garden! There are bug species that will eat the annoying pests you don’t want in your garden. Ladybugs will eat your aphids, and they don’t cause any harm to your garden! You can buy ladybugs, but you can also add plants they are attracted to (like catmint and alyssum) to your garden.
Soldier beetles will hide under rocks and moss in your garden during the day, but they will come out at night to hunt and eat your pests. Attract soldier beetles to your garden by planting some mint and rosemary near infested plants.
Repel Bugs with Flowers and Herbs
You can naturally repel some pests by planting flowers and herbs around your garden. These plants emit a fragrance that deters predators that want to eat the fruits (and veggies) of your labor. They will keep away pests, as well.
Marigolds, petunias, nasturtiums, alliums, and chrysanthemums are easy to grow and add more color and visual appeal to your garden.
Your undesirable bugs will not want to be near any fresh herbs. Consider growing herbs like parsley, fennel, lemon balm, sage, dill, basil, lavender, thyme, or coriander.
You can also grow these plants in pots, so they are easily moved around the garden. Place them wherever your unwanted guests are!
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