Organic Pest Control

All gardens at some time or the other are plagued by pests. If left unattended, these pests will slowly but surely destroy your plant friends.  If you are reading this, please congratulate yourself first on opting for the Organic way of getting rid of garden pests. It is but the best way to preserve biodiversity.

Since organic gardens do not use any chemical pesticides,  organic pest control is done via the following ways

  1. Cultural or Agronomic
  2. Mechanical
  3. Biological or by
  4. Organically acceptable biopesticides

Cultural or Agronomic way:

Use of disease free and disease resistant varieties of seeds is one of the best preventive practices in organic pest management. Maintenance of diverse plants, companion planting, crop rotation, trap cropping are all effective practices which can keep the population of pests below the threshold limit.

  • Companion planting in gardening and agriculture is to plant different crops or plants in proximity for pest control and other different uses. For example Marigolds are planted between vegetable patches as the smell of the foliage of marigolds is claimed to deter aphids from feeding on neighboring crops.
  • Crop Rotation is the back bone of organic farming. Crop rotation is growing different plants in succession on the same land. All high nutrient demanding plants should precede and follow legume dominated crop combination. Legumes – peas, french beans etc should be used frequently grown in rotation with other vegetable plants. Along with other many benefits of crop rotation, this helps in avoiding pest build up.
  • Trap Cropping method is used for trapping the pests into favoring something else instead of the plant you want to protect. For example, in order to save Cabbages from caterpillars, farmers plant Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) around the cabbage plants. The caterpillars prefer to lay these eggs and feed on the Nasturium plant and the Cabbages are saved.

Mechanical Way

Pest control can be done in the Mechanical way by physically removing affected plants and plant parts, installing bird baths and bird perches so that birds frequent the garden and eat the pests/larvae. Installing light traps, sticky colored plates for catching pests etc can be very effective in bringing the pest population down in your garden. Spraying your plants with jets of water also helps in dislodging pests and should be done regularly.

Biological Alternative

Use of pest predators and pathogens is a good way of keeping the pests below the threshold limits but this is more useful in fields rather than home gardens. A good biological alternative for home gardens could be of your cat catching rats that haunt your garden.

Organically acceptable botanical pesticides

Many plants have pesticidal properties and the extracts of such plants can be used in managing your pests. Among all plants identified for this purpose, Neem has been proven to be the most effective. Here are some of the botanical/natural pesticides:

  • Neem (Azadirachta Indica) extract has been found effective in the management of approximately 200 insects, pests and nematodes. Neem is very effective against grasshoppers, leaf hoppers, plant hoppers, aphids, jassids,beetle larvae, white flies, mealy bug, scale insects, fruit maggots, spider mites and moth caterpillars. You can buy Neem Cake/extract from GreenMyLife or from a nursery, dilute it with water and spray on your plants.
  • Fermented Buttermilk is also used in some parts of the country to get rid of white flies, aphids, jassids etc.
  • Chilli-Garlic Extract might sound like a nice tasty sauce that goes into a sandwich for us humans but this is very effective against leaf roller, stem/fruit/pot borer. Crush green chillies, garlic cloves, neem leaves and ipomea leaves (if available) into a nice paste – add water to it and spray on the leaves to get rid of pests.

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