There are so many reasons to avoid the use of chemical pesticides in your garden.
- You might be worried about the effect toxic treatments are having on the environment
- You may be fearful for the health of your children and pets particularly if you are growing fruit and vegetables
- You might be worried about other wildlife in your garden and the wider context of your use of pesticides
- You may just have an overarching feeling that working with nature is better than working against it – pesticides have not been around forever so surely there must be other old-fashioned ways to ride your garden of pests?
For many sound ecological reasons, the number of people joining the green gardening bandwagon is increasing year on year whatever their motivations. Going completely chemical-free is tricky but there are lots of things you can do which will alter and then reduce your reliance on pesticides. You may need to learn to garden in a wholly different way. Welcome to the green revolution!
You will still use products in your garden
Unless you want a jungle overnight, you will still need to use preparations in your garden to help you control unwanted flora and fauna. This is about reducing your reliance on toxic chemicals, phasing them out so using products that are less harmful but will also work but in a different way.
Reaction times are likely to be slower but that’s because the products will be less effective across the board n simple terms. The problem with truly efficacious applications is they kill everything they come into contact with. You will need to learn to be more selective and, more patient.
You have to be a little discerning and identify your pest and then find the appropriate treatment rather than going for the flame-thrower effect. And you have to be sharp-eyed and vigilant so you deal with problems as soon as they arise. You won’t be able to let pests or unwelcome diseases take hold as they will take a longer time to respond to your new methods. Let’s face it, strong chemicals are probably for lazy gardeners – it doesn’t matter if the problem gets out of control as you know you can eliminate it. If those weapons of mass destruction are taken from you, then you will be much more on it in terms of patrolling your borders.
Here are the key takeaways:-
- Identify clearly the particular pest or disease you want to get rid of
- Learn about its life cycle because you may be able to discourage it by changing some of your gardening practices
- Identify the correct time to treat it
- Source an appropriate chemical-free product and understand clearly the dosage instructions and method of application
- Be patient! A product that is less toxic may be slower to work particularly if the pest or disease is well established
Harness nature’s own pesticides
Many of the unwanted insects in your garden may have their own natural predators. Understand who and what they are and then make sure you have an environment they would like to visit: you have already provided their food source so see if you can encourage them to hang around for longer and not move on. For example, lady beetles enjoy a good feed on aphids so try and create an environment for that will keep this insect on-site and on side. Rather ironically, if you destroy too many of their food source species then you will not encourage them to thrive in your garden. Working with nature is about finding the right balance.
It might take you a bit of time and trouble but gardeners have long used physical barriers to protect against larger garden pests, take a look:-
- Birds – use netting to protect plants, bird scarers to act as a deterrent, small windmills or scarecrows work well, a plastic bird of prey is another option although you will need to move this around
- Deer – deer can do a huge amount of damage in a short space of time, fencing or netting is one deterrent and you can also use Deer Scram which is an unholy mix of garlic, white pepper, dried blood and meat meal to sprinkle around the plants
- Moles – people have been driven to distraction by moles which are notoriously persistent. There are mole deterrents that emit sonic waves and are solar-powered, these seem to receive mixed reviews. Otherwise, there are repellents that you can use on the ground although not near food plants. You have to be in for the long battle with moles
- Rodents – you can deter with a toxic perfume, not toxic to your garden but deeply unpleasant to the vermin or use live traps to catch and re-release
Plants are commonly predated on by insects or blight which are often too small to be controllable via a physical barrier. These diseases will include blotch, blight, mildew, fungal problems, leaf spot and bacterial canker to name but a few. There are many different targeted plant sprays that can cope with these issues but the two key points are first, they must be targeted, there is not really a one size fits all product away from the pesticide market and second, you need to intervene early before problems become entrenched. This requires a certain amount of knowledge in being able to identify the blight or disease in its early stages and know which product to reach for to deal with it.
Your other enemies will be weeds and moss. Again familiarity with their growing cycles and spraying at the right point in the development of that particular weed is crucial.
There are tons of online resources that can act as a library source of factual information as well as forums and groups where you can share in the knowledge and expertise of other gardeners. Thanks to websites like www.growsmartgrowsafe.org and useful downloadable resources like this one, you need never feel on your own in your quest to have a pest-free garden, there are plenty of other gardeners just like you.