We get calls every year about how someone’s plant has gotten aphids or spider mites, etc. It can be frustrating, especially on newly bought plants. Unfortunately, bugs are a part of life. They hop, crawl, fly, and multiply faster than most living things. There are more bugs in the world than humans, over ten quintillions. (I didn’t even know Quintillions was such a thing.) Some insects are beneficial, while others are a downright nuisance. Controlling them can be challenging, especially as some have built up resistance to pesticides used on the market.
Below are some ways to prevent pests from taking over your garden without using chemicals.
- Encourage healthy soil – Healthy soil makes healthy plants with robust immune systems better able to fight off diseases and pests.
- Plant in the right place – Full Sun in Full Sun, Shade in Shade, plants that require more water group together versus those that need less water.
- Control Weeds – they compete for your plant’s resources and often harbor garden insect pests.
- Attract beneficial insects – Beneficial insects prey on pests and will naturally come to your garden for nectar, pollen, and shelter. You can encourage them to stick around by growing flowers that meet these needs.
- Companion Planting – Planting different crops in proximity to each other for several reasons, including pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial insects, maximizing the use of space, and otherwise increasing crop productivity.
- Rotate Crops – Crop rotation confuses pests, reduces their concentration in specific areas, and helps you manage soil fertility.
- Practice interplanting -Interplanting means alternating specific crops, herbs, and flowers to confuse pests. Pests enjoy mono-crops, which is why industrial farms are often heavily sprayed with pesticides; instead of mono-crops, alternate rows of vegetables with rows of beneficial insect-attracting and pest-repelling herbs and flowers.
- Floating row covers – row cover allows water and light to penetrate while keeping pests out.
- Attract Birds – Lure bug-eating birds to your garden area by placing a birdbath filled with fresh water. Erect a bird feeder close by as well. Keep it filled with seeds from late autumn through early spring. (best for non-vegetable gardens)
- Attract toads and frogs.
- Be proactive – always keep an eye out for an infestation.
- Stay on top of your harvests.