A guest blog by Alicia Lawrence.
Having a garden is hard work. You have to buy the plants, dig up the dirt, water, weed and fertilize before you see the payoff in way of fresh-from-the-earth tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers. Obviously you don’t want garden pests crashing the party and snacking on the fruits (and vegetables) of your hard labor.
But you’ve read the horror stories in the news about insecticides and you’re worried about yourself, your pets and the environment. So what’s an earth-friendly gardener to do? Don’t fret, there are ways to keep the garden pests at bay when doing organic gardening without spraying your plants into submission with nasty chemicals. Here are a few green ideas on natural pesticides to get you started.
Keep Plants Minty Fresh
Garden pests like ants are known to eat ripe fruits — especially strawberries. If you plant mint around your garden, the herb will naturally deter the ants and provide you with the main ingredient for a tasty mojito. Note that mint can quickly spread in ideal growing conditions, so be sure to prune the plant regularly.
Not Just for Vampires
Garlic can do more than just keep the vampires away when you are organic gardening. Caterpillars, mites and aphids are deterred by the pungent kitchen ingredient. Try mixing chopped garlic, vegetable oil and dish soap together to make an insect repellent to spray directly on plants. You can also experiment with adding hot peppers or onions to the at-home sprays, they are also excellent natural pesticides. Just remember to wash the produce before eating to get rid of any residual repellent.
Look in Your Pantry
The answer to your pest-control prayers might be in your pantry. Many common garden pests are repelled by bleached flour. Sprinkle the flour around your plants, making sure to really hit the leaves. When you are doing organic gardening in the fall or winter, remember to reapply after a heavy rain, which will wash away the flour.
Get Your Plants a Friend
Master gardeners and your local agricultural extension will often laud the effects of companion planting. Many plants have natural pest-deterrent properties that come in handy when paired with another plant. Marigolds, for example, ward off white flies, which are attracted to tomatoes.
Horseradish will keep garden pests like potato bugs away. And lavender keeps moths at bay. Do your research to find out which plants work well together to get the most bang for your buck in the garden.
Get Some Help from Kelp
Kelp is a nutrient-rich seaweed often touted for its health benefits. While you can’t grow it in your garden, it can help you grow other healthy fruits and vegetables. Studies have found that kelp works both as a fertilizer and an insect repellent.
Dried kelp can be ground into a powder mixture and sprinkled around plants or the juice of the seaweed can be mixed with water and sprayed onto plants to keep aphids and Japanese Beetles at bay.
Cover Up Your Crops
Head to your local garden store to get a roll of floating row cover. The thin, porous fabric should be anchored or buried into the ground while still giving your plants plenty of wiggle room to grow. In addition to protecting your plants from overhead pests, the cover will ward off any frost for those getting an early start on the planting season.
Luck Be a Ladybug
Ladybugs are among the few friendly pests you should welcome into your garden with open arms. The red-and-black polka-dotted insect will chow down on less desirable pests including aphids and mites. You can attract ladybugs to your garden by planting flowers in the daisy family.
Another friendly garden insect is the praying mantis. The large insects will eat a variety of garden pests. Praying mantis eggs can be purchased at select garden stores or online. When the eggs hatch, the young insects will feed on the bad bugs you’re looking to get out of your garden.
For more tips on organic gardening, visit www.SimpleNaturalSolutions.com
BIO: Alicia is a content coordinator for an SEO company and blogs in her free time at MarComLand.com. Her articles have been published by Her Fitness Hut, Examiner.com, and Ask Miss A. Find Alicia on Twitter @Alicia_Lw or on Google+.