Caring for garden plants always goes badly for me. It seems like everything that can go wrong, will go wrong in my garden. One issue that always seems to go badly for me is the number of pests that appear in the garden. One year, I had an infestation of aphids, and another year, I was plagued by ants. I never resorted to chemical pesticides, but that could be just because my garden was not big enough to justify the expense.
Controlling Pests with Pesticides
In general, it is best to avoid all pesticides. As a rule, all pesticides are poison, and are actually dangerous to both humans and animals as well as the pesky bugs in your garden. Most pesticide packages have strict instructions for use and proper disposal to avoid placing the chemicals in the water supply. So if the pesticides are harmful in the water, what makes them suddenly OK to eat after they have been sprayed onto plants? Yep, that’s right. Nothing.
However, I know that sometimes convenience wins out over the “best” option. If you determine that you must use pesticides in your garden, use them with the following cautions in mind:
- Use as a last resort: Only revert to pesticides if other, natural, pest control measures such as diatomaceous earth are not working.
- Use the right kind for the job: Do not try to kill ants with a pesticide designed for wasps or grubs. Most pesticides are designed for a specific type of bug.
- Use as little as possible: Start with a tiny application before adding a large amount to your plants. Only increase usage if the small dose seems ineffective.
- Avoid touching the pesticides: Do not allow children or pets to touch sprayed plants. When working with the plants, wear a dust mask and gloves to protect your lungs and skin.
- Dispose of pesticides properly: Take the pesticides to a toxic waste dump in your area to avoid polluting the water or nearby ground with chemicals.
Natural Pest Control
The best alternative to classic pesticide control is natural pest control. Humans used natural pest control for thousands of years before the invention of chemical pesticides, and it seemed to work out pretty well for them. Natural pest control has a two-fold approach to controlling unwanted pests in your garden.
Prevention of pests: Prevention is the first step in pest control. Your local agriculture extension office can help you determine how to prevent the pests commonly found in your area. You can also look online for help: universities will often have the best information about natural pest prevention. In general, preventing pests includes making them uncomfortable by eliminating food sources if possible, preventing breeding, and preventing housing.
Control of pests: In spite of the best prevention efforts, pests will still attack your plants. When this happens, there are several natural control options to use. One popular option is the liquid soap method – just spray slightly soapy water onto the plants, to deter pests. When I tried this method, however, I used too much soap and killed my plants. Whoops. The control methods are different for each type of pest, so you will have to research specific control methods for the pests you see in your garden.
Helpful Natural Pest Control Resources
If you are interested in learning more about natural pest control, the following sources have some useful information about controlling a variety of pests naturally:
Do you fight pests naturally? What techniques do you use?