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Organic Pest Control in the Garden

Updated on August 5, 2009

If you have a garden, then you know that pests can be a problem. Insects in particular are our main problems. I can't put a fence up to keep the bugs out, as much as I wish I could. I have found some organic ways to keep the pests under control though.

One of the best things you can do to keep the bad bugs out of your garden is to plant the right things. Companion planting certain plants together will keep the insects down. For instance, planting basil next to tomatoes will repel tomato hornworms while sage repels carrot flies and cabbage moths. Strong smelling flowers also help keep insects away for a couple of reasons. One, they don't like the smell and two, the strong flower smell masks the attractive smell of the vegetables. Marigolds are my favorite to plant as they will keep white flies, tomato hornworms, bean beetles, cucumber beetles and asparagus beetles away. Nasturtium will keep squash bugs and white flies away.

Aside from planting the right things, there are other things you can do to keep your garden safe from pests. Choosing the right time to plant will keep your garden safer. The earlier you plant in the season, the more susceptible your plants are to insect damage and diseases. You should also mix up your plants. Don't plant in rows or large patches. If the insects do find your carrot patch, they will ruin them all. If you have plants all mixed together, they might find a small patch, but probably won't ruin the entire carrot crop.

You should also rotate your crops from year to year. So if the potato beetle finds your patch one year, they will probably come back again the next, but if you moved the patch to the other side of the garden, you have a good chance that they won't find it. You should also avoid certain pairings. Don't plant corn with tomatoes, or potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant together. Cucumbers, squash, melons and pumpkins should be kept separate too.

If after planting everything in the best way to avoid pests, you still have trouble there are things you can still do organically. Many caterpillars and beetles need to be handpicked and can be dropped in a bucket of soapy water to kill them. If slugs are a problem you can sprinkle crushed egg shells around the base of plants as slugs don't like to crawl over sharp objects. If you still get slugs, you can either pick them off or sprinkle salt on them. Putting a row cover over some low growing crops will protect them from bugs. The light should still shine through, but they will be protected.

You can also find recipes online for homemade bug sprays such as garlic spray, hot pepper wax and insecticidal soap. Attracting good bugs will also keep the bad bugs under control. Ladybugs will eat aphids, spiders will eat just about any bug and preying mantises are some of the best creatures you can have in your garden. Toads will also keep the insect population under control. You can create a toad house easily by putting a low shelter (piece of board) in a damp corner of your garden to attract them. So before you grab the nearest jug of pesticides, try to figure out what you can do to make your garden less attractive to insects organically. It is better for you and the environment and is much cheaper than pesticides too.

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    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Deborah-Lynn,

      Tansy is toxic to poultry. I would use diatomaceous earth for ant control. It is organic and comes from the crushed fossils of fresh water organisms. It works as a dessicant by piercing the exoskeletons of insects and is very safe and effective. Make sure you get it from a garden supply nd not a pool supply. They are different.

      Hope this helps!

      Cat

    • mkott profile image

      Michele 8 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Thanks Jennifer for the informative hub. Trying to go organic in my garden and other areas of my life. :)

    • Deborah-Lynn profile image

      Deborah-Lynn 8 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Jennifer, Thanks for your article, I like your suggestions, but I have a related problem.

      I'd love to organically repel ants around my wildfowl, what is Tansy and does anyone have other ideas as well?

    • Marty1 profile image

      Marty1 8 years ago from New South Wales Australia

      By introducing Parsley to your garden you also attract the Lady Beetle who loves to munch on Aphids. To keep away ants plant Tansy and also consider using double sided tape to stop them climbing the trunk, because its the ants who are farming the Scale

      Happy Gardening, Marty

    • xquisit1985 profile image

      xquisit1985 8 years ago from Denver CO

      I love this hub, and wanted to say i also use pepper juice, works quite well, and if your having problems with mites, a mixture of 50/50 water and apple cider vinegar is a good pasticed when misted lightly!!!

      Nice Hub Thumbs up!

    • Patti Ann profile image

      Patti Ann 8 years ago from Florida

      Great information - I use hot pepper juice in our vegetable garden and it works really well.

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