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:
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:
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!