Humans have a real love/hate relationship with insects, sadly mostly the latter.
Many of us still aren’t aware of the connection between insects and our food, particularly the importance of species such as bees. Other bugs such as spiders (which actually aren’t an insect) play a major role in natural pest control in a garden. The pesticides we use in the garden can often affect these species too.
However, some bugs can be a real headache at times – munching on valuable garden plants and destroying vegetables.
The old saying is an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, so consider companion planting strategies that can help with reducing bug infestations.
Companion planting is the art of situating plants so that they help each other – whether it be in terms of nutritional aspects, shading or pest control. There’s a great chart on Gardens Ablaze that lists pests and what plants repel them. By introducing some of these species around your valuable plants, it can help reduce or eliminate infestations.
In regards to vegetables, this page offers a range of suggestions as to the best planting mix.
However, companion planting will take some time to really kick in, so what do you do if you have an insect infestation that you need to deal with right now? Here’s some tips and resources relating to green pesticides.
Snails and slugs
Being such a major problem in many gardens, I have an article dedicated to dealing with snails and slugs which lists quite a few ideas, plus additional tips contributed by readers.
Ants are very beneficial to a garden, but sometimes the little critters can get way out of hand, become destructive and even pose somewhat of a threat. Pick up some tips on dealing with ants.
General green pesticide spray
Judy K, a Green Living Tips reader, contributed the following recipe for home made general green garden bug spray that she picked up from a member of her local Horticultural Society.
Please note this should not be used on vegetables or any plant destined for human or animal consumption.
1 whole garlic bulb, chopped.
2 large or three large rhubarb leaves, chopped.
2 quarts of water.
1/2 cup of liquid hand soap
Combine ingredients in a large stainless steel pot and boil until the leaves and garlic is tender.
Strain the liquid into a pail and add the 1/2 cup of liquid hand soap (note from Michael, a plain liquid castile soap would be the best choice).
Fill a spray bottle and freeze the remainder of the mixture in containers the same size as the spray bottle.
NOTE: Wash all cooking utensils well with hot soapy water, as the rhubarb leaves contain toxins.
Dispose of the cooked leaves and garlic in the compost bin.
It’s always important bear in mind that when it comes to pesticides, “green” or “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean harmless to us or our pets; as Judy indicated in her note on the recipe.
Always check for safety information that accompanies any recipe or product and look for products that target problem pests rather than inflicting collateral damage on important beneficial species such as bees.
Do you have an earth friendly pesticide brew you’d like to share? Please add it below and it would be greatly appreciated if you could include information on what pest/s it deals with, any plants it shouldn’t be used on and any other other precautions that should be taken.