Mother Nature does a wonderful job of keeping the pest populations
in control by maintaining a balance between them and their
predators. Environmental conditions, such as, the amount of rain,
hours of sunlight, and temperature levels all affect what pests
will survive to reproduce. When land is cleared to plant a garden,
it changes the dynamics between pest populations and natural
controls. For example, pests can destroy a garden very quickly
when their predators need a shady area with thick undergrowth to
survive and these areas have been cleared. Pest populations in the
garden can be controlled directly by using pesticides.
Unfortunately, synthetic pesticides kill beneficial insects and
animals that help break down the soil, pollinate flowers, and eat
harmful pests. In addition, the use of pesticides contaminates the
soil, ground water, and the produce we grow to consume. Provided
below, is a list that describes the steps for ecological pest
management without using harmful chemicals.
Steps to Control Pest Problems:
1) Identify the
problem. What types of pests are causing problems? Are they
manageable? Do they damage your crops or transmit disease?
a) Weeds (such as Crab grass)
b) Animals (such as Deer)
c) Microorganisms (such as
Viruses, fungi or bacteria)
d) Insect pests (such as Aphids)
2) Can this problem
be prevented from occurring again?
a) Lay down mulch or plant earlier before weeds appear.
b) Build a fence to keep deer out.
c) Plant disease free or resistant seeds and nursery stock
and ensure you use proper sanitation, including the
washing of tools to slow down the spread of pests.
d) Use healthy, enriched soil. This builds strong plants
with a high resistance to pests. e) Time your crops so
that they do not coincide with known pest breeding
f) Practice crop rotation to stop this year's
insect larvae from infecting next year's crop. g) Do not
plant too many of one species of plants in the same place,
as it gives pests an added advantage.
h) Grow certain varieties together. Marigolds, for
example, deter insects. Rue branches placed near
strawberries or tomatoes keep most pests away.
3) Is there
something that you can do physically to cut down on the
Weed your garden thoroughly.
b) Leave a strip of uncultivated ground to protect predator
and parasite species.
c) Thinning can increase air circulation and consequently
reduce the amount of mildew.
d) Traps can be used for slugs, earwigs, and ants.
e) Wash off with water or remove by hand any visible insects
that are considered pests.
f) Remove infested plants.
g) Feed and water your plants regularly. Well-nourished plants
are less susceptible to disease and pest infestation.
4) Are there
biological control agents available? Biological
pest control includes: other insects that prey on pests but won't
eat your garden, birds, moles, toads, parasites and diseases
produced by fungi and viruses.
Lady bugs, praying mantises, and trichogramma wasps are a few
of a wide variety of predator insects available at your
nursery or through mail order.
b) Make sure you leave an area of the garden such as the
border in it's natural state so these beneficial bugs have
some where to stay. Predator bugs will die off or move to a
new location after they have devoured the pests.
5) Will home made
organic sprays work?
blender mix 4 cloves of garlic and 1 onion. Put mixture into
large glass container and add 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons
of hot pepper sauce (bottled). Let steep for 2 days, then
strain mixture and add one tablespoon of mild dish soap
(ivory). Dilute with 5 cups of water and spray plants weekly
Add pyrethrum (chrysanthemum) flowers to boiling water and
strain for natural pesticide.
6) If nothing else
works, use a chemical for pest control that is acceptable to an
Safers soap - is non-toxic and can keep a pest problem under
control but does not eradicate the eggs, resulting in numerous
b) Rotenone can be used for aphids, thrips, spider mites, and
white flies. It is organic but needs to be reapplied often and
Other acceptable chemicals to an organic gardener are neem,
sabadilla, and pyrethrum.