Organic pest control is the best way to maintain a healthy garden for everyone and everything. Organic pest control will not eliminate all of the insects; after all, some of those insects are beneficial. Taking extra time caring for your plants and being on the look-out for early signs of disease and insect attacks is considered an organic way of keeping things under control. Healthy plants that do not have any stress signs will be able to resist pests and diseases a little easier.
Once your garden has been completely harvested and there are healthy old vegetable vines and similar residue left behind you can turn it over into the soil. Anything diseased or pest-infested should be removed because this provides a breeding ground for pests and pathogens. Some insects like to live in the debris during the winter and will get an early start in the spring when you plant your new garden. Several plant pathogens live in soil all year and this is another reason to remove the bad residue. It is also a good idea to remove any weeds that are close to your garden because insects find shelter in them.
You may think that all insects are the enemy, they are not, and many of them have an important role in the garden. Some insects break down the organic material, some are pollinators and others are called ‘beneficial’ insects because they eat the insects that are the enemy. Some of these beneficial insects include the ladybug, praying mantis, and beneficial nematode.
Giving a Little more Care to Plants
Plants that become damaged or stressed tend to attract diseases and insects. A good way to prevent this from happening is to give a little more care to the plants. You need to have a good healthy soil; organic material can be added to a garden every year if needed to amend the soil structure, capacity to hold water, and the nutrient levels. You can add organic fertilizers if you feel the need, but be sure the plants get plenty of nutrients and water. The plants should not compete with weeds for water and nutrients. An easy way to eliminate this is to use landscape fabric or mulch; every time you visit your garden and see a weed just pull it out by hand.
During the Winter
Insects and organisms that cause disease will live in the soil during the winter close to the host plant, so if you rotate your crops every year those problems have nothing to attach themselves to. Planting the same crop or a related crop the pests get an early start. Rotating crops minimizes soil-borne diseases and lowers insect damage. It is better to wait at least two years before planting the same crop or one related to it in the same spot. Crop rotation is a good way to balance the nutrients in the soil.
You want to be a little creative when you plant your vegetables. Sow a small number of potatoes in one area and another in a completely different area; the pests will have a hard time attacking both groups of potatoes. You can plant some flowers together such as marigolds and nasturtiums which repel insects. Herbs such as dill, mint, and fennel attract some of the beneficial insects that love to dine on the garden pests.
Some organic fertilizers provide a wide array of slow-release nutrients. Remember not to over-fertilize, follow the directions carefully. Young plants are going to need a little protection from the wind by having tall plants nearby for a windbreak. If you see any leaves that have become burned it could be from over-spraying an herbicide. If you see this cut off any damaged leaves and spray all the leaves with clear water. Prevention can be the best form of organic pest control that can be used. Always select disease-resistant plants, do not sow the plants too close together, keep an eye on the levels of moisture, rotate your crops, and check your plants often to keep them healthy. If you need to spray the plants find products that are organic such as horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps, or dehydrating dust as organic pest control.