It’s become a regular practice to handle everything from weeds to harmful insects using pesticides. Pesticides are toxins that are intentionally released into the environment to control pests. The problem with the use of chemical pesticides is that they can have harmful side effects, both upon the environment and upon the people using them. They can often be more trouble than they’re worth, creating more problems than they solve.
Of course, what many people fail to realize is that with proper garden care and tree pruning, you can have a healthy garden. The reality is many people are lazy and would prefer to solve the problem with a spray can than take the time to maintain their backyard ecosystem.
The Problem With Chemical Pesticides
Studies have linked chemical pesticides to a large number of health problems. Short term problems can include headaches and nausea, and long-term problems can be as atrocious as cancer and even reproductive problems – which are serious side-effects to something like pest control. If you come into direct contact with pesticides, this can lead to poisoning which can prove fatal in some circumstances.
The environmental impact of pesticides cannot be ignored either. Air pollution, depleted soil, and a buildup of toxins in our foods are also problems that have been linked to chemical pesticides. Famously, the pesticide DDT devastated the bird population in the United States.
Of course, the harsh reality to these pesticides is their actual efficacy against pests is questionable at best; pests can develop resistances to these chemicals and return stronger than before.
The Organic Solution
The ideal solution is to avoid using harmful chemicals in your garden if at all possible. The first steps that should be taken to do this should be preventative. Having healthy, strong plants should be a priority. Using an organic, fertile soil with properly matched plants, which are regularly cared for with organic fertilizers and proper tree pruning, can go a long way towards keeping pests out of the garden. Remove any weak plants which can spread infections and water your plants early in the day so that they will dry quickly since excess water can attract pests.
Once you’ve taken all the necessary steps to keep pests out of your garden, the next step should be to deal with any pests that do show up in a healthy, organic way in order to create a safe environment for your family and pets.
Non-Toxic Pest Control
The key to organic pest control is to find items around the home that won’t be toxic to humans or pets. There are a variety of methods you can use depending on the type of pest you’re trying to deal with. One of the biggest headaches for home gardens are slugs. Left unchecked, slugs will devour your plants and cause a great deal of damage.
A remedy you might try to deal with them is diatomaceous earth. This compound can be spread around, and while it’s non-toxic, it can provide benefits to your plants while at the same time keeping all sorts of pests away. The particles that make up diatomaceous earth are harmful to the exoskeletons of insects and the soft bodies of slugs and snails but don’t damage bigger animals or humans. As its mechanism of action is not chemical, slugs cannot become immune to it. It’s also excellent for dealing with fleas if you have pets around!
Another possible solution for a slug problem is seaweed spray; the micronutrients in seaweed is great for plants but naturally repels slugs and can be used as a remedy for powdery mildew as well.
Another common natural remedy for soft-bodied insects such as aphids or mites is canola oil. The oil, when mixed with a little soap and water, can be sprayed all over plants and will smother the insects.
Another natural solution for mites is cayenne pepper. Two tablespoons in a quart of water will provide a natural deterrent for insects who are repelled by the capsaicin compound that’s found in cayenne pepper.
For a fungus, try baking soda. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with a quart of water to deal and spray affected areas on plants every few days until the problem goes away. Fungus can also be combated with organic fungicides such as sulfur and copper. Their toxicity to humans and animals is low, however when using any fungicide it’s still important to read all the warning labels before using them.
You can also consider attracting beneficial insects to your garden to prey upon pest species as well as their larvae and eggs. Most famously, ladybugs can be used as a solution when dealing with aphids. They can be purchased online or in stores, and can also be attracted into the garden by planting members of the daisy family. Other insects that will eat aphids include lacewings and hover-flies. You may have also seen Rove beetles crawling around in your garden; they devour the larvae of other insects as well as slugs and rotting plants – so you’ll want to keep these fellows around.
Be careful when setting traps if you have these beneficial insects around as they can help a lot in the organic control of harmful insects. There are also several species of wasp, such as the braconid, that benefit your garden by eating the caterpillars that destroy leaves.
Of course, all this is one of the reasons, you’d want a tree pruning rather than a tree removal as bugs want the sensation that they’re covered and safe or they’re not going to stick around.
Barriers and Traps
Finally, you can consider using traps to catch harmful insects. Flypaper, or any surface coated with a sticky substance, can catch aphids, whiteflys, and other harmful insects. You can also use bits of the waxed cardboard used in milk cartons to form a simple, harmless, and effective barrier to keep bugs like cabbage moths at bay.