With increasing awareness of the benefits of organic food and growing alarms around spraying toxins on foods, innovative pest and disease control techniques are becoming hot topics for gardeners and small farm owners alike.
To compete in the modern, industrialized food system, farmers must use the cheapest and most readily available solutions.
They often don't have the luxury to trial new products when their current methods work for them and their competitors. This competitive atmosphere can make it so that one mistake can destroy their whole business.
WHY USE ORGANIC PESTICIDE?
The products organic farmers use for pest and disease control are arguably safer than conventional farm sprays, but they are dangerous to consumers.
Copper sulfate, a fungicide widely used by traditional and organic farmers, damages good bacteria in the soil and accumulates in harmful concentrations.
While organic farmers use far less pesticide than conventional farms, there are much better options available that haven't yet reached the attention of the farming community.
But, slowly but surely the use of organic pesticides are getting traction and many gardeners are turning to "green" alternatives.
Organic pesticides are far more safer for our health, the eco-system, the soil, and the environment.
It may surprise you to learn that many everyday staples in the kitchen can serve as natural pesticides for disease control. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies garlic, and spicy pepper concentrates as biochemical pesticides, which means they do not harm the environment.
Using these simple everyday ingredients, a good organic garden spray is easy to make.
DIY ORGANIC PESTICIDE RECIPE
Combine the following –
1 tablespoon some type of natural non-toxic soap
1/2 tablespoon of natural plant derived cooking oil (to help it stick to plants)
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Add water to fill a spray bottle and shake it up and spray.
The process for spicy peppers is similar.
NATURAL PESTICIDE INGREDIENTS
Other examples of natural pesticides are acidic solutions made with vinegar or citric acid, herbicidal soaps, and salt-based solutions.
Neem oil is favorite among home gardeners. Made from an evergreen tree native to India, it is a natural oil sprayed onto crops and trees to eliminate pests, fungi, and bacterial disease.
Neem works by stunting larvae growth, decreasing insect mating, and stopping insects from feeding. It can also kill many kinds of harmful fungus on plants.
Unlike copper sulfate and conventional pesticides like glyphosate, neem oil is entirely safe to breathe in, get on the skin, and even to ingest. The best part is that neem oil does not harm beneficial insects when applied correctly.
It is common knowledge that manure is an excellent fertilizer for the garden once it breaks down. Green manure is an easy and time-tested way to fertilize and significantly reduce plant diseases.
The latest research suggests that plants from the brassica species, especially pungent varieties like mustard, radish, and horseradish, can help reduce pathogens and pests in the soil.
According to John Kirkegaard, brassicas used as green manure can increase yields of solanaceous species by up to 40 percent.
Employ the chop-and-drop technique for using green manure, by spreading the plant materials as mulch on top of the soil, or if you prefer, you can slightly bury it.
Vinegar is a broad-spectrum, powerful, non-toxic, and cheap pesticide. A vinegar spray can ward off several different species of insect such as slugs, moths and ants.
Always dilute with water to prevent your plants from burning. Mix 1 liter of water with 300 ml of vinegar.
Once your vinegar solution is mixed up, spray only the leaves of your garden plants about once each week. You can also create an invisible wall for those insects that crawl into the garden by spraying around the garden’s perimeter
When used in slightly higher concentrations, vinegar can also serve as an effective weed killer in your garden.
For home gardeners, these natural weed- and pest-control methods above can be preferable to risking long-term damage to the soil.
Since natural solutions are safe for human consumption, you get added peace of mind when feeding your family or selling your produce.
COUNTRY LIFE NATURAL FOODS ONLINE COURSES
Learn more about natural pest control in the garden and how to prepare the best soil for your vegetables, in our online courses. They are invaluable resources to get your green fingers up to standard!
Learn how to:
- Cultivate the best soil "breeding ground" to get optimal results.
- Control pests and diseases, showing those buggers who's really boss!
- Be a master in seed starting, growing, and transplanting.
- Discover the art and magic of companion planting. Somewhat like pairing your plant with the ideal partner ;-)
- Plant fruit and nut trees so they grow 2 x times faster!
- Grow a gorgeous cut flower garden. 'Cause everyone loves dahlias!
- Manage your garden when you have a busy schedule (who doesn't??)
- The art of preserving and canning food.
- And more! There's always more!
By adding a few safe all-natural ingredients to your soil, you will get fast results like these...
- Over 2 x the yield compared to using standard potting soil.
- Naturally eliminate pest and disease issues.
- Increasing nutrient density and obtaining optimal health benefits from your crops.
- Maximizing the flavor profile, ensuring delicious harvests.
- Increasing germination rate so you'll have an abundance of fruit and veggies in no time!
By Gerry Williams
Photo by Markus Spiske