In an ideal world, at least an ideal world of gardening, there would be no cause for pesticides. Most certainly, there is never a cause for toxic, chemical poisons, but even those seemingly harmless organic sprays and potions aren’t the thing to strive for. The healthiest, cleanest option for both our food, our health, and our environment is to find a way control pests without powders or spritzes. In an ideal ecosystem, all the elements somehow sync in harmony, plants and animals, pests and humans alike, reaching a happy medium in which everyone is fed and functions.
It may seem strange to read in an article about pesticides, that we actually need pests in the garden, but in fact, a healthy population — as opposed to a destructive one — is just what we need. Without the presence of pests, the carnivorous insects and animals that feed on them will seek new environs, leaving our gardens unattended and unprotected so that without pesticides, the next cluster of pests that comes along has free rein to munch on whatever they like. In essence then, the idea of pest control shouldn’t be to eradicate pest altogether but rather have them fit correctly, not destroying all of our crops but also sacrificing a few tomatoes to the greater good.
1. The Bug Hotel
Building a bug hotel in the garden is a fantastic way to invite a diverse congregation of insects, arachnids, and other crawlies. We should construct appropriate housing for the pest-controlling centipedes, spiders, praying mantis, ladybugs and so on, as well as pollinating pros like bees and butterflies. Rather than less bugs, what will actually control pests most naturally is their biological predators.
2. Animal Habitats
But, let us not devote ourselves entirely to insects and arachnids when there are many animals out there to help with pest problems. Birds are fantastic pest control and can be attracted with baths and comfortable hedgerows. Bats are deftly quick pest assassins and are obliging to stay when provided with a simple bat house. Frogs, toads, and lizards are fans of small ponds, even more likely to stay when there are some rocks around to nestle beneath. Invite them all to the garden party as well.
3. Companion Plants
Companion planting and putting certain flora together is another effective way of avoiding issues. Certain combinations are classic: Onions and carrots make great companions as each repels the insects that like the other. There also classic repellant plants such as mints, citronella, lemongrass, basil, lavender, marigolds, and nasturtiums, which all provide useful crops as well as deter unwanted bugs. Then, there are plants like dill and parsley, members of the mustard clan, and medicinal flowers that attract beneficial insects.
4. Mulching Beverages
As if we needed more reason to drink coffee and tea, now we have more motivation of using the spent grounds or tea leaves around the garden as pest deterrent. Both coffee and tea can add richness and depth to the soil while simultaneously offending bugs that might otherwise be chowing down on the vegetables. Include these in composts or just sprinkle a bit here and there throughout the garden. For that matter, mulching in general helps to keep soil moist, as well as provides safer habitats for beneficial predatory bugs.
5. A Garden Pond
All life needs water, so it makes sense to provide a watering hole to keep quality predators around to balance out the ecosystem. Garden ponds will attract bees, birds, frogs, lizards, toads, and tons of other beneficial components to the fauna of a garden. What’s more, it’s a beautiful touch to any abundant congregation of plant-life, and with a simple solar-powered fountain, the water will stay fresh and provide some soothing sound effects for relaxing at the same time.
6. A Kitchen Raid
Luckily for us, pests don’t always have the same tastes as people; lots of stuff in the kitchen works well for keeping bugs away. Cloves essential oil is a famous one to use since it’s a natural anti-fungal agent. So much so that it can kill ants, so be careful with it. Peppermint and sage also help with ants, as does cinnamon. And of course, all those herbs that repel insects in the garden — mint, rosemary, basil — can also be sprinkled into the garden from the shaker for some temporary relief. Vanilla, citrus peels, and onions all have pest-deterring reputations as well.
7. A Natural Spray
One of the problems with organic pesticides is that they more often than not kill beneficial insects, too, leaving room for other invasive and unwanted species to make a home. The better idea, as seen with all of these methods, is to try to prevent pests in the first place, deterring them from crops rather than killing them. A natural spray made by soaking hot peppers and garlic in an oil and water mix can help with prevention as well as evictions. Simply let the veggies soak for a day or two, then watch out for the getting the spray in eyes or lungs.
While it’s never fun to lose carefully cultivated plants to insects or other pests, it is how nature works. Some plants get eaten by bugs, some bugs get eaten by other bugs or birds or frogs, and round and round the world goes. For a healthy eco-system and a healthy garden, it’s important to have all these things going on so that each component, including us, have our favorite things to eat.
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