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Managing Pests in Your Organic Garden

Organic gardening means avoiding the use of dangerous chemicals that are toxic to your body and may also damage the environment. Here are a few of my favorite alternative means of managing pests:

  1. Companion Planting

  • Marigolds - Plant a hedge of these flowery plants around the perimeter of your garden to help keep away many harmful insects.

  • Basil - Plant another concentric hedge of basil around the perimeter of your garden to help repel rabbits.

  • Garlic and Onion – Plant between your vegetables. This will confuse and repel some types of bugs.

  • Mint – planted as a hedge around the garden (or around the perimeter of your house) interferes with the sense of smell of ants keeping them away.

  1. Beneficial Insects - Releasing Lady Bugs or Praying Mantis into your garden is a very effective means of controlling aphids, mealy bugs, leaf worms, and many other pests. You can order beneficial insects online and have them shipped live to your house from several companies such as

3. Garlic & Pepper Spray - Protect your garden plants from cabbageworms, caterpillars, hornworms, aphids, flea beetles and other chewing/sucking insects by routinely using this natural spray that you can make at home. Here is the recipe:

  • 6 cloves of garlic

  • 1 cup hot peppers

  • 1 minced onion

  • 1 Tbsp. natural liquid dish soap

  • 2 cups water

Add all ingredients except the soap to a blender and blend. Using a nut milk bag strain the juice into a large bowl. Stir in the soap and pour the mix into a spray bottle. Spray onto your plants twice a month. Make sure you treat the underside of the leaves because that is where the bugs hide. Cayenne powder or red hot pepper powder can also be sprinkled on the leaves of plants (apply when leaves are slightly damp) to repel chewing insects or added to the planting hole with bone meal or fertilizer to keep squirrels, chipmunks, dogs and other mammals away from your gardens. Be sure to reapply after rain.

4. Diatomaceous Earth – can be sprinkled in the garden (or in the house) to control ants. This product comes from the sea and is used as a fine powder. It is harmless to humans as long as you do not breathe the airborne fine powder. Sprinkling cinnamon powder also works to repel ants.

5. Install bird houses – a single Barn Swallow will eat about 850 insects a day.

6. Install bat houses – a single bat will eat about 1000 insects an hour or 6000 to 8000 in a single night.

Pesky bugs and other critters are often a reality of life in any organic garden. If left unchecked they can spoil all your hard work by devouring much of your produce before you have the chance to enjoy it. Fortunately, these natural remedies will help to manage these unwelcome guests and protect your crops without poisoning your food or exposing your family to dangerous chemicals.