Organic Insect and Disease Control In The Vegetable Garden
During periods when infestations of various garden pests are high in the vegetable garden, control by natural means becomes very difficult. However, the following practices will help to reduce losses without use of chemical pesticides.
- Natural predators/ "beneficial insects" should be encouraged wherever possible; however, predators raised in captivity, then released into the garden area are usually ineffective. Various types of plants can be useful to attract beneficial insects to your garden. SEE: Insect Control In The Garden
- Good garden mulch tends to reduce damage caused by nematodes. Many organic gardeners approve of and use sprays and other preparations containing naturally occurring materials. Diatomaceous Earth comes from petrified sea life. Pyrethrin, rotenone, and ryania are examples of natural poisons from plant parts. These give some control to some insects under certain conditions.
- One of the best methods of reducing insect and disease pressure is to use resistant varieties when available. A good example is VFN tomatoes, where the VFN stands for Verticillium-, Fusarium-, and nematode-resistant material.
- Insect control begins with healthy plants. Don't bring problems into your garden - buy insect-free transplants. Timing is also important. Insect populations tend to increase as the season progresses, so planting early can avoid many insect problems. Encourage beneficial insects to stay in your garden. This can be as easy as nailing a horizontal board to a fence to encourage wasps to build a nest.
- For cutworms, place a cardboard of tinfoil collar around plant stems at ground level.
- Plant as early in the spring as practical.
- Keep out weeds which harbor insects.
- Some insects, like cabbage worms, may be killed by spraying with natural preparations such as Bacillus thuringiensis.
- Insecticidal soaps, made from fatty acids tend to work well for some insects under average conditions.
- Products containing Neem oil are also effective to control insects.