Pest management tips for organic gardens
We all have to deal with pests in our lives, such as your neighbor's barking dog or that annoying co-worker, but gardening pests can be easier to deal with than most. Here are some tips to keep your plants happy and thriving without using chemicals.
• Plants that are undernourished are most susceptible to pests. Keep your soil healthy by adding compost, compost tea, natural fertilizer or soil amendment to avoid pest infestation.
• A plant can become compromised from too much or not enough water. In either scenario, the pests will happily move in and make life even more difficult for the plant.
• Those creepy little pests that suck the life out of your plants are called aphids. You'll find them more prevalent after high winds, which is what they use to travel. They can easily be curtailed with a few simple tricks. Placing banana peels around the plant will make them go away. Spraying them down with a heavy flow of soapy water helps, too. Releasing lady bugs can relieve the problem. Also, planting garlic bulbs by plants most susceptible to aphids can stop them before they even latch on to the plant.
• Using aromatic plants can deter not only bugs, but rabbits too. For example, plant geraniums, lavender, onions, chives, imperial garlic (to name a few) around areas that seem to be getting eaten up, but not near cucumbers -- they don't like aromatic plants.
• Don't pile yard waste (gravel, rocks, dirt) close to the base of a tree. If you're covering areas around a tree, it makes it difficult for the feeder roots to absorb nutrients. This can compromise the health of the plant and it will soon fall prey to disease (citrus trees will develop gummosis if they are unable to feed properly).
• Basil by tomatoes will help keep away pests and disease and also make a tastier tomato (grow it parallel to the tomatoes). Basil also keeps away mosquitoes.
• Planting radish seeds by cucumbers will help keep away the striped cucumber beetle, but you have to let those radish grow and flower. They're not for eating, just for protection.
• If eggplants are getting eaten by caterpillars, you can wet down the plant and then sprinkle it with cayenne pepper.
• Making sure your plant is living in the proper environment is a simple way to ensure longevity and avoid pest infestation. For example, I had a rose bush that was not getting enough sun and i was constantly removing aphids from the new buds. The plant is now in the sun and aphid free.
• Smokers, wash your hands before planting, especially with tomato plants, to avoid the spread of plant disease.
Note: please don't try these techniques on your annoying co-worker or barking dogs, these are tips for garden pests only.
About this Angie’s List Expert: Larisa Code, owner of Gardens by Larisa in Los Angeles, has been a landscape designer in Los Angeles since 2006. She is a Master Gardener, an organic gardening instructor to children, an urban guerilla gardener and was the featured landscape designer on DIY Network's 'Family Under Construction.' Gardens by Larisa earned the Angie’s List Super Service Award in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 (Photo by Katya Kirilloff).
As of March 23, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.