For multiple reasons, vegetable gardeners choose to use non-chemical methods when it comes to controlling insects, diseases and other pests. Some of the reasons why most gardeners prefer to use these methods include a desire only to grow purely organic vegetables, allergic reactions to chemicals or even protection for the little ones. If used appropriately, non-chemical pest controls are very efficient in keeping a vegetable garden pest-free.
While they’re a couple of control methods to consider, such as pesticides, biological, barriers or even psychology, a combination of two or more proves to be effective.
How to Control Garden Pests
As said earlier, it’s advisable to use non-toxic pest control approaches when controlling pests in your vegetable garden. Keep in mind that the chemicals used in manufacturing some pest control products can kill or poison some pets or even other forms of wildlife like birds, hedgehogs and frogs. And, since most of these animals feed on the slugs and other pests, maintaining their population is valuable in any garden.
In addition to the wildlife being killed by the toxic chemical products, they may also be poisoned if they eat a snail or slug that has been exposed to the chemicals. It might also be better if you consult a professional pest control company such as Excel Pest Services to help you manage your pest issues in your vegetable garden.
Here is how you can control pests in your vegetable garden:
Pesticides are available in three forms; herbicides for eliminating unwanted weeds and plants, fungicides for killing fungi and insecticides for eliminating insects. A couple of years ago, most people preferred using traps to rodents, such as mice, rats, porcupines, guinea pigs, squirrels and moles. Generally, most traps do not necessarily kill the pests. Instead, they only hold them until you can move them away from your garden.
Use of Biological Methods
Well, biological pest control approaches mean that you’ll use living organisms to control the pests. Ideally, you’ll use natural predators or enemies to control the pests. The same way we use cats to control rodent infestation, we can use ladybirds to control aphids and several other insects efficiently.
Furthermore, we can use ducks to control snails and slugs, and the frogs to control the flying pests. Nematodes – some microscopic organisms present in healthy soil, can be used to control any type of pests in a vegetable or fruit garden. The best thing about these microscopic organisms is that they’re harmless to earthworms, wildlife, pets, bumblebees, bees and kids.
Usually, this method of pest control involves the use of psychological means that frightens pests, birds or animals. The most prevalent example is the use of outdated scarecrows. Today, there’re modern bird-scarers which you can place in your garden.
Use of Pest Control Barriers and Covers
A perfect crop cover gives your vegetable garden ultimate protection against animals, insects and weather. There’s a wide range of materials available, such as micro-mesh garden net for controlling insects, poly covers for weather and pest protection, fleece covers for pest and cold protection and bird netting for butterfly and bird control.
Other common barriers include cloches, mini polytunnels, electronic pest deterrents and cabbage collars which protects cabbages against copper slug, root fly and snails. Besides acting as a tonic for the plants, you can use garlic barrier products as it naturally repels slugs, aphids and snails.
Use of Companion Plants
You can use nature’s pest control approaches and eradicate the need for herbicides and pesticides. The use of companion plants is a genuinely amazing non-toxic pest control method. Generally, the method is all about growing plants together, which help and benefit one another to grow. While some plants come with natural pest repelling properties, others help in pollination.
Most plants contain natural pest deterring properties for particular pests. For instance, plant sage to deter slugs, marigolds to repel aphids and nasturtiums to draw caterpillars and aphids from cabbages and other vegetables.
Inspect Plants and Correctly Recognize Pests
Learn to recognize the various pests and insects in your garden. While some of them are valuable, some can cause damage to the plants. Keep in mind that pests can harm the plants from seed to maturity. Thus, it would help if you inspected the plants regularly for pests. Additionally, look for natural enemies and assess the impacts of the control approaches.
Always counter check the undersides of the leaves for spider mites, aphids, Colorado potato beetles, cluster of armyworms and squash bugs. If you want to determine whether or not there’s a low population of thrips and spider mites, hit a piece of paper with the plant. If present, the pests will fall on the piece of paper.
Use Proper Horticultural Methods
Before planting, make sure you prepare the soil correctly. So, till the soil thoroughly to eliminate as many insects as possible. Besides, this offers incredible growing conditions for transplants and seedlings. Healthy plants are always less vulnerable to pest attacks. The spring growing conditions plus the soil composition is likely to affect the population of pests. Thus, soils that contain high organic matter have high chances of supporting root maggots, grubs, sowbugs and pillbugs.
Since weeds supply food to the pests, it’s essential to ensure you have got a weed-free vegetable garden. With a weed-free garden, you will hardly come across some insects like armyworms and grasshoppers.
Also, you need to fertilize the garden correctly. Since plants require sufficient nutrients to grow well, using excessive fertilizer may produce green and lush plants that may attract aphids and other types of insects. Consider conducting a soil test to identify the nutrients lacking in the garden.
Lastly, water the garden correctly. Excessive and insufficient water supply is harmful to plant growth. Certainly, the drought-stressed plants have high chances of attracting spider mites.
As described above, you can see there are several ways you can use to combat pests in your vegetable garden without resorting to chemicals. Here, the key is to be alert and ensure you’re on top of the problems before they get out of hands. If you do so, you’ll certainly have a healthy and thriving garden.