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5 Simple Steps to Reduce Pest Problems

 Pests can be a problem in any garden, with slugs, aphids and grubs wreaking havoc on plants and flowers. But thankfully, there are a number of non-toxic ways to keep detrimental insects at bay. As the following illustrations show, it takes five simple steps to reduce pest problems naturally.


1. The soil foundation should be healthy

This is where your plants will get their nutrients, water, oxygen, and root support from. A healthy foundation will enable them to thrive and will help your plants withstand pests. To save yourself the hassle of cleaning up after unwanted insects, keep these five points in mind:

Keep soil disturbance to a minimum: Refrain from routinely turning the soil as this leaves its surface bare causing erosion, harming soil microbes and earthworms in the process. By limiting soil disturbance, you will also be preserving the living systems in the soil. As an alternative, what you should do is layer amendments on top and let the earthworms aerate the soil.
Start a compost bin: This is an ideal way to supplement nutrition in the soil, creating a desirable soil structure. It simply entails adding one to two inches of well-decomposed compost to the garden each spring.
Use mulch where possible: With plants that are about four inches high, add about two to four inches of grass clippings and mowed leaves. Doing so will reduce water evaporation, suppress weeds, moderate soil temperature and prevent soil compaction.
Rotate crops each season: Repeatedly sowing seeds in the same beds will cause soil dwelling pest populations such as grubs, wireworms, and maggots to increase. But, rotating plant families to new beds each season will keep pests at bay.

2. Attract predators to keep your garden's pest problem under control

Believe it or not, many insects actually help plants grow, by pollinating, decomposing waste, and gobbling up pests. But, how can you tell which insects will cause havoc in your garden? Read through this guide to find out:

pest-free garden
There are, of course, a number of flowers and herbs that you should have in your garden to draw in predators, controlling the pest population. Native flower plants (especially those with daisy-shape blooms) will certainly help attract predators, as will tansy, sweet alyssum, and marigolds, all of which will add a zest of life and color to your garden, too. Predators also tend to find herbs particularly attractive, so be sure to plant some pots of mint, dill, parsley, and coriander. 
pest-free garden
3. Closely monitor your crops for pest damage
Even with healthy soil and beneficial insects, monitoring plants and their leaves (including the underside - as bugs tend to hide and leave their egg sacs there) is always a good idea. 
pest-free garden
4. Control garden pests with these effective kitchen remedies
In some cases, a natural solution to your pest problem can be found in your kitchen. Just be sure to test your homemade remedy on a small portion of the plant first, ensuring that it will not be harmed. As a rule of thumb, never apply remedies on a hot or bright sunny day, as this will likely cause the plants to burn.
pest-free garden

5. When to tolerate garden pests and when to take action

When pest damage gets a little out of hand and may be too high to tolerate, start with the least invasive control method before moving on to chemical cures. Just be sure to do so in the evening when the bees are least active and opt for moderately toxic chemical cures such as neem, horticultural vinegar, lime sulfur and sulfur, boric acid or copper. If pest damage is minimal, you may choose to tolerate pests, as pest control can also harm beneficial pollinators and predators. It is also safe to eat slightly damaged crops or herbs, just be sure to throw out anything that:

  • has been munched on by rodents and raccoons
  • an animal has defecated on
  • any leaves that have a squiggly white decoration as this is generally caused by leaf miners (which are still inside the leaves).

It is safe, however, to eat herbs or crops that have a few holes or look as though they have been nibbled on by insects. Just cut off any damaged areas and enjoy the rest!

Source: fix.com

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