Growing your own fruits, vegetables, trees, and flowers is so rewarding and can provide amazing beauty and delicious, organic foods for you and your family to enjoy. Keeping an organic garden pest-free is every natural gardener’s dilemma. The simple answer is to use eco-friendly pest control techniques. In the garden, green pest control often comes in the form of doing something that may seem backwards: welcoming insects. While you may not like to have beneficial bugs near or on you, letting them hang out in your garden can keep the insects that wreak havoc at bay – without the use of toxic chemicals that are dangerous for you, your pets, and the earth.
Here’s 6 Natural and Eco-Friendly Tips to Protect Your Garden from Pests.
Green Pest Control: Beneficial Bugs that are Garden Friends
To attract beneficial insects to your yard, keep your gardening practices organic. In addition, incorporate plants and flowers that attract them, like Queen Anne’s lace, anise, daisies, sunflowers, cornflowers and chamomile.
Ladybugs: Ladybugs are like a garden’s police force. Despite their cute exterior, ladybugs have a voracious appetite for small and soft-bodied insects. Among their favorites are aphids, mealy bugs, slugs and spider mites.
Bees: Bees are some of the most feared insects, but they are vital to the survival of every plant, shrub and tree in a garden (and on earth). Honeybees and bumblebees are non-aggressive pollinators that are more likely to sting you by accident rather than on purpose, unless you mess with their hives. Yellow jackets are also pollinators, but they dine on soft-bodied bugs like caterpillars and flies. If you see one or two yellow jackets in your yard, don’t panic. However, if there’s a nest on your property, call an eco-friendly pest control professional for help.
Praying mantis: This alien-looking bug is a garden’s clandestine secret agent. Its color helps it blend in among twigs and leaves so garden-eating insects don’t see it coming. The praying mantis eats anything it can catch with its long arms, including flying insects, maggots, grasshoppers, grubs, caterpillars and more. Because praying mantises are so feisty, don’t pair them with ladybugs as an attempt to super-fortify your garden, or you’ll soon find all your ladybugs missing.
Spiders: Spiders offer you a great deal; if you let them live in your garden rent-free, they’ll take care of garden pests that land in their webs in return. This service is amazing during the mosquito and ant seasons.
Dragonflies: If you live near the water or have a water feature on your property, dragonflies can help reduce the mosquito population. Dragonflies like to hang out around water, which is where mosquitoes breed. When you see a dragonfly skipping along in your garden, bring out the welcome mat.
Minute pirate bug: Not all beneficial insects eat the eggs of garden predators. Let minute pirate bugs scuttle around so they can take care of pests in the earliest stages of development.
Additional Eco-Friendly Pest Control Tips
Your green pest control efforts don’t have to stop with beneficial insects. Use the following techniques to keep out pests of the insect and non-insect variety:
Natural solutions: Sometimes your pantry contains all you need to prevent or kill pests without the use of harmful chemicals. As an example, pour a bit of cheap beer into a shallow dish; the beer will attract slugs and kill them. Use cleaned and crushed egg shells around the base of plants to repel slugs and cutworms. For more natural solutions, talk to a professional at a plant nursery.
Cleanliness: Pests are attracted to messes, so keep your garden clean and well-manicured. When you grow edibles, harvest them in a timely manner so they don’t rot and become a food source for unwanted insects and pests.
Insect-repelling plants: A variety of herbs, vegetables and flowers act as insect repellents. Examples include citronella, marigolds, lemongrass, yarrow, fennel, spearmint, basil and thyme. The experts at your garden store can tell you which insect-repelling plants grow best in your area.
Barriers: Use a mesh-like material over vegetables that insects or other pests tend to target the most. While it’s important for the material to have a tight weave, the weave should also be loose enough for the plants to receive adequate sunlight and water.
Birds: Plenty of backyard birds enjoy snacking on insects. Hang a feeder in your garden to attract birds to your yard. Just remember to regularly clean any mess they leave on the ground to avoid attracting rodents.
Green pest control is simple. Practicing it keeps your family, pets and the earth safe so you can enjoy your garden without any worries. If you ever have a pest problem that’s beyond your control, don’t hesitate to call a pest control professional that uses eco-friendly practices.
If you are planting a garden this year and have some old seeds here’s a great article on how to check the viability of your seeds before you plant them from The Homestead Garden.
For a wonderful free comprehensive guide for natural pest control check this article out.
Do you have a garden? Have you ever tried any of these tips for controlling pests? Please contribute to the conversion by leaving a comment.
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Author Bio: Jen McCauley, the marketing director of Eden Advanced Pest Technologies, contributed this post. Eden Pest is a leading integrated pest management company in Western Washington and Oregon that provides green pest control solutions for both residential and commercial customers.