Spring is here, and summer is on the horizon. That means flowering plants are blooming, and gardens are growing back. It also means pests. Pests are the gardeners worst nightmare, whether it's deer destroying that sapling you just planted, groundhogs digging up your garden beds, or aphids ravaging your roses.
Whenever pests pop up, it’s best to take immediate action regarding pest control. Pests can destroy your plants, and spread throughout your property. However, there are many who don’t want to buy poison, like roundup, and dump it on their lawn or garden beds, so instead, you turn to organic and natural garden pest control options like natural pesticides.
Organic pest control is a great way to prevent or stop pests from eating up your garden. It is usually a more targeted process, and different approaches can be used depending on the plant and pest. Plus, organic pest control products won’t harm you, pollute your yard with toxic chemicals, or harm the natural biodiversity of organisms in your soil, and around your garden. In this article, we will discuss some organic and natural garden pest control methods.
What if I told you that simply adding some plants to your garden beds can deter pests? Some plants have strong scents that naturally ward off natural garden pests, and mask the more desirable scents of other plants in your garden. The following pest-repelling plants are most effective if they are planted nearby the plants you want to protect, or they can be potted and moved around when you need them.
Who doesn’t love fresh basil? Basil repels aphids, flies, and mosquitoes. Plant it near any of your plants that regularly get eaten up by these natural pests in the garden, and watch it work its magic.
Bay leaf is a common insect repellent. You can plant it in your garden to keep many kinds of pests at bay, or you can buy dried bay leaf at the store, and spread it throughout your garden.
Rosemary is an evergreen, aromatic plant that most garden bugs tend to avoid. It is an effective companion plant for keeping natural garden pests like snails, slugs, carrot fly, and mosquitoes away.
Thyme is a perennial, low-growing herb that is commonly used in cooking. It can be easily planted in the garden or in walkways to repel tomato hornworms, whiteflies, and earworm. It is particularly effective if planted in walkways where its leaves can be bruised, and it can give off more of its insect-repelling fragrance.
Catnip is known for cats love of the plant. Its leaves can be brewed into tea for human consumption, and it is an effective repellent for insect pests like mosquitoes. Catnip spreads easily, so plant it with room for it to spread, so that it does not encroach on other plants in your garden, or plant it in a pot.
Plants in the allium genus like chives, onions, and garlic aren’t just good to eat, they are also effective insect and rabbit repellents. If you’re looking to keep Japanese Beetles away in particular, plant them near your eggplants, beans, cucumbers, potatoes, roses, strawberries, or tomatoes.
Lavender is an aromatic herb with beautiful purple flowers, and a delightful scent. Luckily, many garden bugs don’t like the smell of lavender like we do. Lavender keeps mosquitoes, fleas, moths, and other insects away. You can also use a spray bottle to apply lavender oil.
Spearmint can be planted along the perimeter of your garden to keep natural garden pests, like soil-dwelling pests, such as spiders, aphids, and rodents away. Spearmint is an invasive plant, and spreads very quickly like catnip. So, you may want to plant it in pots around your garden to avoid it choking the other plants in your garden.
Marigolds are the organic gardeners dream, known for their ability to squash bugs. Not only do they have beautiful flowers, but they are common companion plants to squash and tomatoes. Planting marigolds between your tomatoes and other plants will repel nematodes with a scent they release in their roots. Also, their scent repels many insects along with deer and rabbits.
While most insects stay away from marigolds, they sometimes attract spiders and snails. So, if either of these animals are your biggest pest problem, it may be best to avoid using marigolds in your garden.
Who said you can’t fight fire with fire? But seriously, adding a natural predator like beneficial insects to the mix can seriously help your natural garden pest issue. Pest-repelling insects, also known as beneficial insects, are insects that prey on pests or their larvae, they can be lured to your garden beds, or purchased at a store. Also, if you’re worried about beneficial insects hurting your garden beds after the garden pests are gone, you won’t have a problem with these insects:
Not just fun to look at, the lady bug eats mites, aphids, whiteflies, and scale. To attract them, plant yarrow, tansy, and members of the daisy family, and watch your natural garden pests disappear. You can also buy lady bugs in online catalogues.
Not as widely known as the lady bug, but still recognizable, lacewings are bright green beneficial insects with large white, “laced” wings like a cobweb or doily. Lacewings love to eat aphids, and their larvae do too, along with other insects. They can be attracted by planting composite flowers like asters, golden rod, black-eyed susans, and yarrow, or purchased online.
You may be thinking getting rid of your natural garden pests is not worth having wasps all over your garden, but these wasps do not sting, and you probably wouldn’t even recognize them as wasps. They are small, flying beneficial insects that consume leaf-eating caterpillars, so you likely wouldn’t want to kill beneficial insects like these. Plant Queen Anne’s Lace, carraway, celery, parsley, or carrots to attract them to your garden, and get rid of your caterpillars.
Hover-flies, like Lacewings, consume aphids. Also, like lacewings, their larvae consume other types of insects. They can be attracted to your garden by planting composite flowering plants.
Nematodes can get rid of cutworms. Cutworms are a harmful pest that can kill plants before they sprout into seedlings. Beneficial nematodes can also remove beetles, and root weevil larvae. Nematode eggs can be bought in some garden centers, or online.
I saved the best for last. If you’re like most people, you probably find the praying mantis interesting on some level. They are large beneficial insects that are very effective at removing many different kinds of common garden pests. Praying mantis eggs can be laid out in the garden to hatch. They can be ordered online.
Many pest-repelling plants are effective at keeping pests away because of their fragrance from the essential oils the plant has. Therefore, in the following list you may see some overlap between pest-repelling essential oils, and pest-repelling plants. In some cases, using a pest-repelling essential oil may offer a more targeted approach, because you can use a spray bottle on the designated area.
In order to use pest control essential oils in your garden, you can make a spray using 20 drops of the oils to about 4 ounces of water. Spray the mixture around any plants you want to protect against pests.
Furthermore, you can use pest-repelling plants in conjunction with pest-repelling essential oils. If you are a DIY type of person, you can even use your own pest-repelling plants to make essential oils, or a solution to spray your garden. Below are some common essential oils used for pest control.
Lavender is such a desired plant not only because of its pretty purple flowers, but because of its fragrance. Lavender essential oils are very common, and can be purchased online. As mentioned, use a spray bottle to apply lavender to the area you’re wanting to keep pests away from.
Mint is a great essential oil for keeping a wide variety of insects away. As a natural pesticide of sorts, mint deters fleas, flies, spiders, and many other insects. It is also commonly used as an alternative to toxic tick spray, because it repels ticks. You can use mint essential oils in your garden, and on your person, to repel mosquitoes and ticks from biting you while you’re doing your organic gardening, or out hiking in the woods.
Rosemary is commonly used to deter pests like cabbage moths, flies, and mosquitoes.
Citronella is another effective insect repellent. Citronella makes attractive scents of plants to pests, so that they find it difficult to locate plants to feed on, or lay their eggs.
Tea tree oil has many great uses related to garden bugs. It can keep ants away from your garden, or out of your house. And if you or your children ever had lice, you may have used a shampoo with tea tree oil in it. Tea tree oil can be used around the garden, as well to keep a variety of insects out.
Pest control options extend beyond planting repellent plants, and using essential oils. There are other garden pest control methods like traps and barriers that protect your plants and vegetable garden, or lure pests in and kill them.
Yellow flypaper attracts and squash bugs like aphids and white flies. Yellow flypaper can be purchased in stores or online. You can also make it yourself by using yellow boards, or cutting strips of heavy yellow paper, and coating them with a sticky substance.
Cabbage moth larvae can kill the sprouts of cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower (Brassilica family). Barrier paper prevents the cabbage moth from laying eggs at the base of the young sprout. Simply save waxed cardboard from your milk carton, cut into 2 inch squares, slit one side to the center, and slide the square over the seedling. This will prevent moths from being able to lay any eggs if you do this early enough (before the cabbage moth gets there) to protect young seedlings.
Pheromones are mating scents that attract insect pests. Pheromone traps contain the scents of the insects you want to trap, and are covered with a sticky substance to trap the insects. They should be placed on the perimeter of your garden, so as not to attract pests into the garden itself. They can be found online, or at some garden centers.
A cloche is a small, transparent cover that can be placed directly over seedlings. They act as a barrier to keep pests out while the plants are still young, small, and vulnerable. Cloches must be removed to water, and on especially hot days. They allow younger plants to establish themselves, and stay healthy, giving them an advantage, and a natural resistance to pests once the cloche is removed.
Floating row covers are a semi-translucent fabric that is placed over a row of plants. It is commonly used in farming. Water and sunlight can penetrate the cover, but they prevent pests from getting in. Also, because they are so lightweight, as the plants grow, they are pushed upwards without harming the crop. They need to be weighed down on the sides of the row, in order to prevent wind from carrying the lightweight material away.
Floating row covers are very effective at protecting young seedlings. Also, they are commonly used for over vegetable gardens through the growing season to prevent pests from laying eggs onto the plants.
If you have apples, you may be aware of the apple maggot, a type of fly that injects its eggs into apples for its larvae to hatch, and feast on the apple. Apple maggot traps are red sphere-shaped traps, coated with tanglefoot. Females trying to lay eggs get caught in the trap, and die. One trap should be placed per about 100 apples on a tree.
There are many other natural pest repellents, and garden pest control options besides pest-repelling plants and essential oils. While we can’t get to all of them, here are a list of some of the most common and most effective natural pest repellents.
Mixing one tablespoon of canola oil with a few drops of liquid soap in a quart of water is an effective repellent against soft-bodied insects like aphids, mites, and mealy bugs. Shake up the mixture, pour it into a spray bottle, and spray the plant from above downward to get the topside of the plant leaves, and from underneath up to get the underside. This mixture will squash bugs by smothering the insect pests, and leaving your plants unharmed.
Neem oil is an extract from the neem tree, a tropical tree. Neem oil is nontoxic to humans and pets; however, it is an effective natural repellent to pests like the Japanese Beetle. So, if you have infested plants covered with Japanese Beetles, or other common garden insect pests, try spraying them with neem oil to stop them from spreading and mating, and producing more Japanese Beetle grubs and Japanese Beetle larvae.
While this one is a bit more expensive than other repellent options, it is an effective repellent against pests of the larger variety. Installing an electric fence around the perimeter of your garden will keep deer, raccoons, rabbits, bears, and other animals away from your garden.
There are different varieties of plants that you can choose based on their resistance to disease and pests.
If you’ve got deer or rabbits eating plants in your garden, a little spice might be just what they need to stay away. Mix a tablespoon of dish detergent with an ounce of hot pepper sauce, and spray it onto the leaves the deer or rabbit has been nibbling to keep them away.
Or, try buying cayenne pepper in bulk, and sprinkling it around your plants to keep animals away. The smell and taste of the cayenne pepper should be enough to keep pests away.
Now that you have some tips for how to keep garden bugs out of your garden bed, how about the bed you sleep in! Although you may not like to think about it, bugs can get just about anywhere, including your mattress. Sometimes cleaning your sheets regularly, and keeping your bed free of any food or sweet drinks isn’t enough.
One great way to make sure your bed is bug-free and safe is to choose the right mattress. For example, did you know that natural latex mattresses are dust mite resistant? While dust mites aren’t as bad as bed bugs, they can cause allergic reactions, and aren’t fun to have around. Purchasing a natural latex mattress is a sure-fire way to keep your bed mite-free and clean.
Moreover, if you opt to choose organic and natural garden pest control methods, why sacrifice organic when it comes to your mattress? You sleep on your mattress every night, and you might sleep even easier if you know that your mattress is made from organic, natural materials, rather than synthetic, toxic ones.
Eco Terra offers 100% pure natural latex mattresses made with organic cotton and wool. They are made with no chemicals, polyurethane, or toxins of any kind, so you can sleep easy and healthy. Plus, with the natural latex, you don’t have to worry about mites either. Check out Eco Terra now to learn more, and get yourself a comfortable, healthy mattress. Your products shouldn’t be organic only when it comes to natural garden pest control, but your mattress too!