Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Natural Pest Control
Pest control is often a necessity for any gardener. Without any pest control measures employed, many plants are susceptible to significant damage from pests. In the case of crops grown for profit in particular, this damage may lead to devastating financial losses for growers. In addition, as home gardeners, farmers and consumers we are all concerned about the effects of ingesting any unhealthy or toxic pest control agents.
The basic concept for natural pest control is to employ the least toxic method available to control harmful pests. Use more potent, short-lived botanical or natural insecticides only if necessary. In many cases, the best defense starts with the overall health of the plant. Many studies have shown that a healthy, unstressed plant is more able to ward of and survive an insect attack. One way to minimize stress from plants is through proper watering. Not enough water may cause wilting, while too much water may cause rot and promote mold, mildew and fungus growth. A drip irrigation system with a timer can deliver just the right amount of needed water at just the right location on a regular basis.
Biological pest control involves the introduction, augmentation, or conservation of specific living organisms to eradicate pests harmful to plants. For example, Ladybugs might be introduced into a growing area to combat an infestation of Aphids.
Please note: As with any pest control measure, caution should always be exercised. If employed incorrectly, biological measures could cause more damage to your plants and those in surrounding areas than what would have been caused by the original pest.
Natural repellants can block some pests and discourage other pests from entering a planting area. A tea made from petunia leaves act as repellent to hornworms when sprayed onto tomato plants. Oat bran sprinkled at the base of plants can ward off slugs and snails. Garlic oil http://www.dripdepot.com/1216 sprayed onto plants acts as a simple repellant to some pests and acts as a natural toxic insecticide to other pests.
Some growers have found very creative methods to control pests naturally without the use of any chemical insecticides or repellents:
1. A forceful spray of water is often enough to knock most insects off of plants and
the same method may discourage ants from invading a growing area.
2. If you place pieces of aluminum foil on the ground around the base of a plant, the
reflected sunlight bouncing off the undersides of leaves can repel aphids.
3. Squashing a few aphids around infested plants releases a chemical signal that
makes the other aphids drop from the plants and leave.
4. You can ward off wolly aphids, a common apple tree pest, by training trailing type
nasturtiums to wrap up and around the tree trunk.
5. Lavender plants grown under and near fruit trees can deter codling moths.
Creating a natural barrier around your planting area, or sections of the area, might be a simple and efficient pest control solution. For example:
1. You may want to grow certain vegetables in a small greenhouse,
2. Place netting around certain plants to repel birds and other animals.
3. Diatomaceous earth, powdered charcoal, calcium dust, and bone meal can also be
used as a non-toxic barrier to some types of non-flying pests if sprinkled on the
ground around plants.
If you know what specific types of pests pose a hazard to your plants, you'll be able to tailor your pest control methods to effectively keep your plants healthy. By utilizing natural methods, you'll also be able to minimize or even eliminate any safety and health concerns. Effective organic pest control solutions are also available to growers desiring to maintain the “organic” status of their crops. Any of these products would need to be certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) as being in compliance with national organic standards.
Golden Harvest Organics (www.ghorganics.com)
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