organic pest control

cbowMarch 24, 2012

I am looking for some affective ways organically, to control insects, any ideas?

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Any pesticide/herbicide is best used on a target pest/plant.

It can be as easy as knocking aphids off leaves with water hose to realizing squash vine borers really suck no matter how organically or chemically you go after the issue.

There is no real spray-and-walk-away for a wide variety of pests, especially with organics. Pesticides like Spinosad are marketed/certified organic, but that doesn't mean it's not dangerous to non-humans. It's not very good ending up as runnoff in a waterway (streams/ponds/etc) and it's got a growing reputation for being horrible on bees.

The best starting point for controlling any pest is to scout your garden and learn what the "bad" insects are vs what the "good" ones are in your area. I don't even bother controlling some pest populations based on the amount of "good" insects that happen to be around at the time I'm noticing the baddies my garden.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 8:51PM
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Row covers and healthy soil are the first defense. After that you should consider botanical sprays targeted for the specific pest. Many organic pesticides are broad spectrum, and will do harm to beneficial bugs as well as the pest in question, so it is important to identify the problem first.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 10:24PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

All gardeners dream of an organic way to control only the few really bad insect pests that do damage while not harming any of the beneficial insects (which are by far the majority). Sadly no such thing exists.

The closest thing to it is developing, over time, a balance in the garden where the many good guys keep the bad guys in line.

First, you ID the pest, second confirm it is actually doing damage not just passing through, third that it can't be controlled by simple methods such as water or hand picking or row covers, and only then do you seek the pesticide that targets it specifically and read and follow the label directions for application times and methods.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 10:37PM
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RabbitRabbit(9 CA)

Depending on how large your vegetable patch is, you can also use child labour ;) I have a 4 and 6 year old who love to hunt snails and bugs and actually bought them a "Good bug, Bad bug" book so that they could learn to identify the beneficial insects and not squish them.

You may also be surprised at how effective hand picking can be. At one point we were overrun with disgusting banana slugs. We went out every night for a week with a flashlight and disposable chopsticks and picked all the slugs we could find, putting them in a can of salt water. It was tedious, but amazingly successful. If you repeat this every few weeks, you can really decimate the population.

I have also done this with cabbage worms on my broccoli, though if you have a lot of plants, a floating row cover will also prevent eggs being laid.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 11:41PM
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I remember as a child my father put a bounty on the big tomato worms in the garden.

I have a very large garden and I don't use any chemicals. Promote the good bugs and they will do a lot of your work for you. No one likes yellow jackets and wasps but they eat a lot of bugs. Keep the garden free a debris where they can hide. Use row covers, they are amazing.

I have to say it freezes up here every year and that helps with the bugs. I have never had problems with the squash vine borer, have read here about the trouble some of you have with that. So many of my neighbors have buggy apple trees that I know I will never get a good crop even if I sprayed weekly, I have given up on that crop.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 1:25PM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

Don't forget birds. Providing water for local birds throughout the growing season will attract them and they will eat many troublesome insects.

Now, someone is bound to complain that the birds can become garden pests. That may be true for them, but it has not been my experience.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 2:05PM
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It depends on the insect!
I have found that having lots of flowers near my vegetable garden is associated with few pest problems (but I do have my share).
I also attract birds, but when they are a problem (i.e., digging up seedlings), I employ row cover--which as others mentioned is a great way to prevent pest damage.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 3:23PM
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"Now, someone is bound to complain that the birds can become garden pests."

The only "pest" things birds do around my part (NC) is eating small peppers (serrano or smaller) and occasionally tasting other things. The squirrels and rabbits are much worse about taking a taste of things, though.

In other parts people have issues with birds with tomatoes and/or birds ripping seedlings out when they're very young.

But yeah, for the most part birds are a non-issue and eat more bad things than take my good things...though they ruined a fall red-ripe serrano crop for me 2 years ago. Luckily I had already harvested and frozen a lot of pods from the summer crop. It's generally only a problem on ripe pods showing color...which I assume attracts the birds. They generally left the green pods alone and didn't show up to feast until the plant had a good amount of red pods on it.

There's cheap bird netting for any problems, though...they're not as hard to control as voles, deer, etc.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 5:03PM
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