PROTECT YOUR GARDEN NATURALLY
Your garden center offers lots of safe, nontoxic products for use in repelling and eradicating insects, pests and disease that threaten your gardens. Barriers such as netting and row covers protect plants from flying insects as well as from deer and other hungry mammals. Copper tape can be used to protect trees and plants from slugs and snails. Bacillius thuringienses, or B.t., is a bacterium that kills leaf-eating caterpillars by invading their digestive system. B.t. is sold in both powder and liquid forms under a number of trade names including Dipel, Condor and Biotrol. Other bacterial controls available include Milky Spore Disease (Bacillus popillae) for use against Japanese Beetle grubs.
Simple, Safe Sprays for Controlling Insect Pests
For some pests like aphids and caterpillars, a strong spray from a garden hose can knock them loose. It’s important to spray the underside of the leaves where most insect pests reside.
Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a bacterial disease that is safe to humans but wreaks havoc on many caterpillar and larval stage pests including Colorado potato beetle, cabbage looper, and tomato hornworm. It is sold in the form of a soluble powder that is sprayed on the plant surface and is then ingested by the pest. Be sure to use the right type of Bt for the pest you want to control.
Homemade sprays are easy to make and use but must be applied regularly. Mix one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid per ½ gallon of water and spray insect pests directly to kill. It is best to spray plants on cloudy days or in the early evening when they are not in direct sunlight. It’s a good idea to rinse the soap residue off after a couple of hours to reduce leaf damage to sensitive plants. You can prepare garlic and hot pepper sprays to prevent insect pests from munching on plants. Mix several garlic cloves with water and steep overnight. Strain and spray on plants every few days or after rainfall. You can do the same using hot peppers in place of or in addition to the garlic. These bad tasting sprays can also deter small mammals.
Now that our vegetables and flowers are planted and thriving, it’s prime time for the hoards of insect pests and diseases to invade our little piece of paradise. Here are a few tips to help you through this scary attack.
To deter cucumber beetles, try planting a few radish seeds in each hill of cukes. Let it grow alongside the cucumbers all season. The strong smell or taste of the radish seems to keep the beetles away.
Homemade garlic or hot pepper sprays can protect your young seedlings from flea beetles and aphids. To prepare, combine finely chopped garlic and onions (or hot peppers) with water, let it steep for a while, then strain out particles. Spray vulnerable plants often, especially after rainfall. You can also sprinkle ground cayenne or other hot ground pepper directly onto leaves to deter chewing pests. This is most effective in the morning when leaves are moist with dew.
Control powdery mildew and fungi on garden crops by combining one cup of milk with nine cups of water and spray onto affected plants twice a week. Researchers believe the milk has a direct germicidal effect as well as indirectly stimulating the plants to become more resistant. Let us know how it works if you try it.
Garlic & Pepper Spray
Protect your garden plants from cabbageworms, caterpillars, hornworms, aphids, flea beetles and other chewing/sucking insects by routinely using a natural spray that you can make at home. The spray must be applied regularly, especially after a rainfall. Brew up a batch as follows:
6 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp dried hot pepper
1 minced onion
tsp pure soap (not detergent)
1 gallon hot water
Blend & let sit for 1 - 2 days. Strain & use as spray. Ground cayenne or red hot pepper can also be sprinkled on the leaves of plants (apply when leaves are slightly damp) to repel chewing insects or added to the planting hole with bone meal or fertilizer to keep squirrels, chipmunks, dogs and other mammals away from your gardens. Be sure to reapply after rain.
Bad Bugs Keep Out!
Here are some safe and easy steps you can take to reduce insect damage to your garden. To prevent cutworm attacks, place a newspaper or cardboard collar around the stems of tender transplants at the soil surface. Crop rotation and good garden sanitation is essential to repelling squash bugs and cucumber beetles. Heavy mulching can help prevent potato and cucumber beetle larvae from finding the plants. Row covers are another effective barrier against insects, though they may need to be removed to allow pollination to occur. Interplanting crops with aromatic plants like garlic, chives, or marigolds can repel many problem insects. Soap and water, garlic, and hot pepper sprays can easily be prepared at home for use against many pesky garden insects. The best solution to pest problems, however, is maintaining sound garden practices like building healthy soil, rotating crops, and cleaning up your garden at the end of the season.
Good Bugs vs Bad Bugs
Releasing large numbers of Lady Bugs or Praying Mantis into areas of your garden infested with insect pests is lots of fun and can be a very effective means of controlling aphids, mealy bugs, leaf worms, and many other pests. Lady Bugs should be released at night near the base of infested plants where they will seek out and devour insect pests. Praying mantids are voracious predators that will feed on many of the larger insect pests including grubs, beetles, leafhoppers and caterpillars. These beneficial insects are available for sale at garden centers and through mail order.
Organic gardening emphasizes cultivating your garden so that it sustains enriching soil, plants and beneficial insects. This is achieved by using products that nurture your garden soil and the organisms in it. When you embrace the organic gardening philosophy, your plants experience a balanced and nourished ecosystem that works as nature intended.
Organic products are ideal for your landscape, because they feed the soil, creating a sustaining environment. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants.
As in nature, an organic soil alive with microbes and fungi releases nutrients slowly to plants. By enriching the soil with organic supplements and encouraging the growth of naturally occurring beneficial organisms, you give your plants the tools they need to access nutrients in the soil and the strength to protect themselves from harmful pathogens and pests.