25 Organic Pest Control Methods for your garden
Getting rid of pests like caterpillars, gophers, aphids in your garden is completely difficult sometimes. It seems like there is always something that cause problems to our plants. Keeping them at bay can feel challenging when you’re following organic practices, but believe me it works. Benefits of organic gardening for your family, local wildlife and health is completely worthy of your efforts.
So, if you want to continue doing it to stop pests from destroying your garden, then here are 25 ways you can do!
Before You Act:
It is essential to approach organic pest management in a conscientious way. It means, don’t spray them aimlessly out of everything because one plant that has some mysterious nibble holes in it.
Organic Pest Control Methods You Can Try:
Preventing pests in your garden is categorized in to three types: Physical, Biological and Chemical organic pest control methods, and deciding which implement in your garden depends on the severity of problem you deal with. However, you’ll learn which plants need special care and which you can leave to fend for them with time.
Below are some simple ways to get rid of pests in an organic way, but you should give yourself more than enough ideas to battle with these little pests.
Physical Organic Pest Control Method:
Physical pest control includes many mechanical ways that kill or remove pests from an environment without using any pesticides or sprays. This range from physically using your hands to using barriers to reduce pest population.
- Manual Removal:
So, when you decided to remove pests from your garden get comfortable in touching and removing them with your hands. This is one of the simple and easiest ways to stop them from their tracks. When you are collecting insects or pests, get a bucket of soap water along with you, especially, if you are dealing with large number of insects. Use gardening gloves and drop victims in the bucket of soap water. Allow them to soak completely until they die, then dispose that water away from your garden.
Additionally, you can also squish or collect egg of those little eggs. The best example is cabbage butterfly eggs which will hatch in to leaf munching caterpillars. If you’ve observed cabbage white butterflies in your garden, first examine your plant completely for little oblong white to yellow dots on leaves. Squish them with your hands when you find them, don’t forget to check underside of leaves too.
Well, manual removal doesn’t mean you should only use your hands. Use hard steam of water to blast off aphids and spider mites, don’t blast too hard which might result in damaging the plant, especially young tender seedlings.
You can get rid of pests like cabbage loppers, cabbage white butterfly caterpillars, slugs, snails, aphids and squash bugs- when you find and catch them.
- Bird Netting:
Birds are also considered as garden pests sometimes, as they go after fruits and some plants like tender young seedlings, leafy greens and small sprouts. That’s the reason many gardeners find the need to drape their garden beds, fruit trees with bird netting. Especially after planting new seedlings or when fruits ripen near harvest time.
Bird netting is one of the best ways to keep them off from your plants and to catch the birds in the net. So, use this with proper care and caution. You can find really inexpensive bird netting as well as higher quality bird netting options out there. Choose the one that works best for you.
- Fruit Traps:
Soil dwelling pest’s love damp, dark hiding places. If you’re struggling with sow bugs, millipedes, pill bugs or stink bugs try bathing them with large piece of fruit or vegetable matter. For example, use a slice of melon or big leafy green or skin from an overgrown squash- place it on the soil surface in damp and pest-prone area overnight or for several night to get rid of them.
In addition, wood traps also follow the same idea, but attracts different types of pests. Dampen a board or other wide flat piece of wood and place it on the surface of soil. Even cardboard works!
In early morning, before pests retreat back in to the soil, peel of any fruit or wood trap and see what you caught! If you want to reuse it, make sure to brush the pests in the bucket of soap water if not, trash the whole thing and start it from the first.
You can easily get rid of sow bugs, millipedes, beetles, stink bugs, pill bugs and other soil-dwelling pests.
- Beer Traps:
Yes, beer is highly attractive to many soil-dwelling pests and insects. They are very cheap too. When it comes to trapping insects and pests, the cheaper the beer the better it works.
To create a beer trap, all you need is one cat food or tuna and little amount of some cheap beer. First, rinse out the can then dig out a hole in a place where you think you have lot of soil-dwelling pest activity or wiggle the can down in to the soil. Pack the soil back around the can as needed.
Next, fill the can about halfway full of beer, if you overfill it they may be crawl back out. And leave the can and just wait. Check it back on the following day where many soil-dwelling pests come out only at night. You can leave these traps for few days, but be forewarned that they can start to get pretty stinky. When changing trap, bring bucket of soap water to dump the remnants. Refill it with cheap beer and repeat it as needed.
Fencing around your garden can be extremely effective in preventing access from vertebrate pests like deer’s, rabbits and chickens. Fences could be installed around on entire garden or around individual raised beds. Generally, many rural gardeners enclose their garden on four sides to keep deer out. However, it completely depends on the size of your garden and the size of fencing system will dictate just how effective it will against pests.
Additionally, you can also use fencing as organic pest control to protect your garden from below. Line the bottom of every raised bed with hardware cloth before installing raised beds. You can also plant tender young fruit trees in large DIY Gopher Baskets made from hardware cloth. Remember that hardware cloth is far more durable and vermin proof than chicken wire.
Pruning is another best option to get rid of pests without using any organic sprays or insecticides on your plant. You can prune that entire section away. However, make sure you aren’t taking so much that might result in killing the plant. If you’re worried that you may have shocked your plant, consider aloe Vera soil drench or some dilute seaweed extract to help it to bounce back.
When pruning, cut away the leaves or portions that are affected to protect the plant from diseases that often thrive in crowded conditions, so it benefits from a trim and increased air circulation anyways. If you see the entire plant is infected or diseased, just remove the plant completely to prevent it from spreading.
Dispose that infested or diseased trimmings in the trash bin or in green waste bin. Also, clean your pruning snips frequently while pruning, particularly if you’re working on plants with disease! Wiping them out using rubbing alcohol when you’re out in the garden is one of the easiest ways.
- Row Covers:
This is another best idea to get rid of certain pests that infect your plants. Individual garden plots or garden beds can be covered with row covers which block out pests or other undesirable elements. It means, some row covers are usually used to stop insects, while others have the purpose of providing additional warmth or shade for your plants.
Row covers can be implemented as organic pest control in different sizes and styles. Traditionally, hoops are used to support the cloth like material at the desired height over your plants. Some are held on other supporting structures by allowing space for tall plants underneath.
Use the right material and keep the covers closed and tucked in around the sides, so that they act effectively prevent pests like cabbage white butterflies and their caterpillars, squash bags, cucumber and smaller flying insects.
- Cloches And Collars:
When you don’t need to protect your entire garden or a raised bed, then it is better to consider providing them individual cloches or collars.
Cloche is a small translucent cover that sits over a plant by creating safe bubble and shield from variant pests depending on the type of material you use. They are generally made from wire fencing material, wire plastic or even glass. Wire cloches are perfect to get rid of rabbits, birds or similar pets especially if they’re secured in one place.
A collar is similar concept but with an open top. This absolutely helpful and eliminates the concern for buildup heat or sunburn and still provide shield around the base of the plant. People make collars using plastic water bottles, wire fencing, cups, Styrofoam, milk jugs and cardboard. Etc.
Collars are useful to protect the stems of plants from cutworm damage and other pests that attack plants at the soil level. Wrapping nylon stocking, aluminum foil or paper towels around the base of squash wine plant can prevent squash vine borers.
Some Other Physical Organic Pest Control Methods You Can Include Are Shown Below:
- Crushed Eggshells:
Sprinkling crushed eggshells on the top of the soil prevents snails and slugs reaching your plants. Additionally, calcium in eggshells encourages the growth of plants and gives you healthy fruits and veggies. One of the best organic pest control methods
- Live Traps:
Instead of killing those pests, you could try relocating your pests. Live traps can be set for small vermin, raccoons, rabbits or skunks with this simple one. Be cautious of neighbor pets like cats and other small pets!
- Sticky Traps:
Place yellow sticky traps in area where you feel there is huge flying pest insect activity. They are perfect and effective against gnats, white flies, fruit flies, leaf minor flies, flea beetles and squash vine borer moths. They can be used indoors as well as in outdoors to keep them at bay.
- Copper Foil Tape:
Wrapping copper tape around pots, raised beds and the base of individual plants helps you to prevent snails and slugs from your plants.
- Flashy Bird Tape:
Bright tape that flashes and moves in the sun and wind can deter birds from unwanted areas of your garden. All you need to do is, tie the tape from fruit trees, or just attach it to other plants or structures to get rid of them.
Biological Method Of Organic Pest Control Methods:
Biological methods of organic pest control are the idea of using natural enemies to prevent pests combined with active human assistance.
There are number of plenty insects that are helpful in preventing other pests. Have a look on some of them that are beneficial for your garden.
Adult lacewings become more active during night time and attracted to the light. Their adult form may feed on honeydew or on small insects and its larvae looks like tiny alligators. The larvae is considered as best predators and feed on aphids, leafhoppers, mealy bugs, thrips and other soft bodied insects.
Lacewings are often sold and shipped as eggs and the best part is that they can’t fly off upon arrival like ladybugs do! Lacewings can also be useful when released outdoors or in a greenhouse.
- Mealy Bug Destroyers:
Mealy bug destroyers are just like lady beetles, helps in preventing aphids and other small soft bodied insects that bother you in your garden. The mealy bug destroyer larva is the most ferocious eater of mealy bugs, so it works great to get rid of them. But, please note how similar the mealy bug larvae look to their prey. Even though it is tricky, you can tell them apart this way, mealy bug destroyers are more furry and have no tail whereas mealy bugs have long tail and are little less wooly.
- Parasitic Wasps:
Parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside or top of other arthropods, and a great tool against tomato horn worms and other caterpillar insects. You will find dozens of species and types, once their eggs hatch the wasp larvae feed on the host and kill it.
You can buy parasitic wasps to introduce in to your garden and unlike other wasps, these do not bite or sting and go virtually unnoticed by humans. Try them in winter season to prevent cabbage worms that are enjoying on your Brassicas and leafy green vegetables.
- Praying Mantis:
Praying mantis is considered as mandatory insect to get rid of pests like beetles, crickets, bees, dragonflies and moths. They just hunt and consume wide array of insects that bothers your garden. Praying mantis eggs are pretty badass looking, you can buy an egg case, allow it to hatch and release thousands of these guys in to your garden.
- Lady Bugs:
Lady bugs are effective in killing ferocious predators like aphids, mealy bugs, white flies and other soft bodied insects. You know, ladybug will eat up to 50 aphids a day and that means during its lifetime a single ladybug can consume up to 5000 aphids. During early stages of their life, they are most effective and quick gobbling down pest insects. Lady bug larvae look pretty different than their adult form. So, make sure you know how to recognize these good guys in the garden and don’t mistake them for pests.
If you are struggling with soft bodies, consider releasing ladybugs in your plants. They are effective outdoors in the garden, or in the greenhouse setting.
Before you leave ladybugs on your plants, remember these things:
- Release them just after the sun goes down in the evening.
- Release them with near a food source like aphids.
- Thoroughly wet the plants that you are going to place them.
- If you are using them in large amount, place them in different locations throughout your garden.
- Beneficial Nematodes:
Beneficial nematodes are very tiny worms that live in soil. You won’t be able to see them with a naked eye, you must use a microscope to see them. They look like worms but aren’t same as other garden worms. Nematodes are hugely important as they fed on over 200 pests up to 100 different insect families. They do their best by releasing bacteria and feeding on them. The best part about these pests is, they don’t harm earthworms, lady beetles, and other beneficial insects in your garden.
Just buy and release them in your garden to control all unwanted pests in your space.
Chemical Organic Pest Control Methods:
Chemical pest control method involves using man-made substances to kill or prevent pests in your garden. However, no harsh chemicals are included in the list shown below.
- DIY Soap Spray:
Making DIY soap spray is very simple and you need a bunch of ingredients, alternatively this is pure organic pest control solution. To create your own insecticidal spray, all you need to do is combining 1 teaspoon of liquid soap solution with quarter of water. For large batch, use 5-6 teaspoons per gallon of water. Fill the solution in a spray bottle and shake well.
Use this spray to get rid of insects and pests on your plants. It kills soft body insects by disrupting their cell membrane and coats, penetrates their natural protective barrier causing them to dry out completely.
It’s always better to use this solution in evening time, do not spray in direct sunlight as it results in causing burn on the leaves of plants. Re-apply soap solution once in every 4-7 days and may take several treatments to solve the problem.
- Neem Oil:
Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of India-native neem-plant. This oil should be properly diluted before applying it on your plants. It works effectively on soft bodied insects like spider mites, aphids, mealy bugs, scales and white flies. When you apply them directly on pests, it coats their bodies and kills them. It also helps in repelling mosquitoes, moths and cabbage white butterflies.
On the other hand, neem oil is not toxic to bees when used in the right way. It also doesn’t bother about other beneficial insects like earthworms, parasite wasps or adult butterflies especially if it isn’t sprayed directly on plants.
- Cayenne Or Red Chili Powder:
Hot chili pepper or cayenne can repel everything from cats to aphids and spider mites on your plants. All you need to do is, just sprinkle red chili powder around areas where you see pests. Or make a spray using chili powder. To do, mix 1.5 teaspoon of chili powder with one quart of water, then add a teaspoon of soap solution which helps its adhere to plants. Allow it to soak for few minutes and shake them well.
Now, use this solution to spray on your plants of concern. It is always best to apply foliar sprays in evening, after sundown. Never get this in your eyes and some people are more sensitive chilies, some plants may also be. Before applying it on your plants, do test spray on just few leaves to see how they’re affected.
- Essential Oils:
Just like neem oil, chili powder odors, essential oils also act effectively to prevent pests due to its odor. Essential oils are more concentrated which means a little goes a long way. To use them as an organic pest control solution, use any essential oil of your choice and mix 10-20 drops per one gallon of water and pour it in a spray bottle. It acts as a natural insect repellant through there are many as well.
- Baking Soda And Soap:
We already discussed about soap solution above, the addition of baking soda to homemade soap can be used to fight against fungal diseases like powdery mildew.
To make homemade baking soda spray, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda per one gallon of water along with 2 teaspoons of liquid soap solution. Mix them well and apply it on your plants in evening hours. Re-apply it every 7-14 days for preventing active fungal diseases outbreaks and every 2 weeks as prevention.
- Diatomaceous Earth:
Diatomaceous earth is made up of fossilized remains of tiny aquatic phytoplankton called diatoms. This is often found in earth and extracted to be used in industrial products or in swimming pool filters, organic pest control products etc.
If feels like silky smooth talc-like powder but when it comes to contact with any insects, its microscopically sharp edges creates hundreds of abrasions on them and finally kills them. Good news is, it is completely safe around humans, wildlife and other beneficial insects.
All you need to do is sprinkle diatomaceous earth on surface, around or under the potted plants and structures to get rid of all types of pests.
The main drawback of using this natural product is, when it gets wet it acts far less effective. So, remember to sprinkle it on the plants where it is dry for at least few days or re-plant to do it after watering or rain.