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Organic Pest Control in the Garden - Green Tip #10

Updated on December 30, 2014

Howdy All!

Whew! Summer is here! This heat may do nothing for your coiffure, but it sure should set your composter in motion! Before I move onto today’s tip, I’d like to give you the 5 components of successful composting:

  1. Nitrogen–this“fuels” the bacteria necessary for decomposition. Horse, cow or goat manure is a good source.
  2. Lime– helps neutralize the acidity of your mixture, which promotes the bacterial “rotting” process. Lime can be omitted if you have alkaline soil. If you do add lime, you should apply a slightly heavier dose than that of manure.
  3. Water–essential to keep your compost heap from drying out.
  4. Heat–expedites decomposition. In cooler months, cover your heap or garbage can lid with black plastic (weighted at the edges) or a piece of old carpet. Carpet’s a good bet, as it doesn’t need to be weighted down, which allows more air into the compost heap.
  5. Bacteria– naturally occurs in the soil surrounding the roots of weeds.

Remember to turn your compost at least weekly to aerate and blend. Don’t expect usable compost overnight; the process takes several months.

Now onto:

Use mulch in your plant beds to deter garden pests.
Use mulch in your plant beds to deter garden pests. | Source
Marigolds are a natural garden pest deterrent.
Marigolds are a natural garden pest deterrent. | Source
Attract ladybugs by planting a variety of flora in your garden.
Attract ladybugs by planting a variety of flora in your garden. | Source
Frogs will burrow under the mulch and come out in the early mornings and evenings to feast on your unwanted garden pests.
Frogs will burrow under the mulch and come out in the early mornings and evenings to feast on your unwanted garden pests. | Source

Organic Pest Control

Green Tip #10– Organic Pest Control in the Garden

Nature has an innate balance of power in the untended, wild landscape. How many forests have you seen destroyed by pests? Unfortunately, many of our domestic landscapes fail due to ourlack of tapping into Nature’s scheme of things. The most natural way to avoid pests in our gardens is to incorporate a diverse collection of plants, using as many native materials as possible. By utilizing plant material native to your locality, youattract a varied colony of useful insects (yes, Virginia, some bugs aregood!) and birds, which feed on unwanted aliens in the garden.

Last week, I talked about fertile ground.This is necessary for healthy plants, which will help deter the invasion of garden pests. However, this practice alone will not keep your garden from coming under attack, so I will mention a few earth friendly ways to battle the enemy!

  • Marigolds interspersed in your flower or vegetable garden will reduce the aphid population because they attract the hover-fly. Hover-fly larvae devour aphids by the thousands. Roses and tomatoes are especially susceptible to aphids, so throw in a few marigolds. You’ll not only control the little buggers, but the splash of contrasting color will be stunning!
  • Planting to attract pest predators is a good way to take advantage of Nature’s balance of power. This can be achieved by companion planting (as mentioned last week). Because many garden pests are attracted to their “host” plants by sight, clumping and varying your garden choices will camouflage the host plants. Additionally, the variety will attract ladybugs, lacewings and certain wasps that feed on aphids and caterpillars.
  • Bark mulch. I can’t say enough. Adding at least a 3” layer of bark mulch to your plant beds not only deters the growth of weeds, but provides a hiding place for critters who come out at night to feed on insects. Ground beetles, centipedes, frogs and toads all prey on plant eating insects. Frogs and toads also enjoy reptile escargot, not-so-fondly known as slugs! Burying a shallow lid or bowl (up to the rim. Do not cover!) full of beer will also rid your garden of slugs. They are attracted to the beer, go for a swim and drown!

When ridding your lawn of fallen leaves (which you’ll add to your compost heap!), don’t be so quick to remove those that have fallen into your plant beds. Leaves also provide a daytime cover for nocturnal pest predators!

Organic sprays

Ah, but the best laid plans of mice and men (and frogs!) don’t always play out the way we’d hoped. Sometimes we need a little chemical warfare to win the battle. There are organic treatments that are safe to use in the garden, however, some are non-selective, so be careful. Insecticidal soaps can be applied to control aphids, whiteflies, red spider mites, scale insects and mealy bugs. However, you must actually spray the pests directly for it to be effective. Copper fungicides control mildews and blights. If you feel the need to resort to organic chemicals, read the label and follow directions. Although organic, some may damage certain flowers and/or kill the good bugs you’ve attracted.

That’s it for this week! Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you next time!



Shauna L Bowling

Refining, Defining or Rhyming

All Rights Reserved

© 2012 Shauna L Bowling


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    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      You're welcome, Peg. Marigolds will add a nice splash of color in addition to deterring harmful bugs from feasting on your roses.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      I'll definitely be planting some marigolds in my rose garden which is in critical need of some help. The bugs and heat have taken its toll. Thanks for the great tips on gardening.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Audrey, the deer may be eating your flowers. We don't have deer here in Central Florida. Well, we do - just not in the suburban areas. However, we have raccoons, opossums, armadillo, squirrels, and hawks to deal with.

      My neighbor and I are getting ready to start a co-op veggie garden in my back yard. We'll have to build a protective chicken wire covering to prevent critters from eating our crops.

      I'm glad you found the compost information useful.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Jackie, I had no idea chickens eat frogs! Don't they know frog legs taste like chicken? Ha ha

      I used to have a family of toads living in my front garden. Ever since a Cuban tree frog showed up, I haven't seen them. Cuban tree frogs are an invasive species that eat frogs and even small rodents. I really miss Mr. Toad and his little family!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Here in the forest, we are fortunate to have many adorable critters + deer. The reason I mention this is because I planted an array of colorful patients in an old wheelbarrow and one-by-one-they all disappeared :)

      I really needed this hub Sha. Amazing information. The five components of successful composting were quite helpful. I will use these tips for sure.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and will be doing some sharing. Thank you and very well done!


    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I have small frogs I see now and then but didn't know they were good for the garden. I have chickens; a new thing for me and they won't eat worms or slugs or any crawly thing so I was showing one a small frog for fun and it ran over and ate it! Poor froggy; I sure hated that and I laid off the eggs a few days. haha

      Some very good tips; up and sharing.

    • profile image

      selink 5 years ago

      With many flowers blooming this time of year, one should also pay close attention to the presence of pests ( so that they will controlled and no damages will be done. We are very fortunate that there are organic alternatives made available these days so that we can maintain the good condition of our lawns and gardens but so no harm to the environment.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Thank you, my new friend. There are more to come....

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      You continue to be a wealth of information my dear.

      Useful, informative, interesting hub.