Creating a successful garden doesn't just happen. Oh no. It's hard work that often starts long before the snow melts. There's the planning, the delicate starting of seeds, the careful preparation of the soil. Then comes the actual planting, constant watering, and backbreaking weeding. After all that, the last thing you want to see is a bunch of garden pests treating your precious babies like a salad bar.
Garden pests, like Japanese beetles, spider mites, aphids, and fire ants, are a challenge for any gardener. For those who prefer not to use chemical pesticides, it might seem that there's no way to win against these hungry insects and caterpillars, but don't give up yet.
Decades of trial and error have revealed more than one clever way to fight garden pests without the use of nasty chemicals. Some involve unleashing their natural enemies to defend your plants like a natural army. Others involve DIY recipes using stuff in your kitchen. This year, don't leave anything up to chance. Fight back against garden pests using the tips below.
5 Ways To Eliminate Garden Pests Without Nasty Chemical Pesticides
1. Sticky Traps - These can be purchased or made at home using a rigid material of a particular color that's coated with a sticky substance. First you make sure the material is the right hue (colors like yellow, white, light blue and red each attract a different group of garden pests), then wrap in plastic wrap or a plastic bag (this makes it easier to remove trapped insects and reload), then cover that in organic adhesive like Tangle-Trap.
2. DIY All-Purpose Spray - Developed by the editors of Organic Gardening magazine over many years, this insect spray combines the repellent effects of garlic, onion, and hot pepper with the insecticidal and surfactant properties of soap. It's particularly effective against leaf-eating garden pests, but apply only when necessary, as it can be fatal to pollinators and other beneficial insects.
3. Parasitic Nematodes - Don't be scared by the word "parasite." Or that other unfamiliar word. This term simply describes microscopic organisms whose life mission is to destroy pests that live underground. Beneficial nematodes move through the soil, they enter the body cavities of their target garden pests and release bacteria that kill that pest. Best of all, they're completely safe for people, pets, and the environment, and are compatible with other beneficial insects. Orcon sells beneficial nematodes that eliminate more than 230 different kinds of soil dwelling and wood boring insects, including Japanese beetles, cut worms, wire worms, weevils, white grubs, fungus gnat larvae, flea larvae, and subterranean termites.
4. Beneficial Insects - Sometimes the best way to fight fire, is with fire. Orcon also sells a variety of beneficial insects, creepy crawlers that are known to be the sworn enemy of garden pests like aphids, flies, mealy bugs, and brown garden snails. Simply unleash these good bugs into your garden, and they'll fight the bad bugs on your behalf.
5. Backyard Chickens - If you're raising chickens on your property, you've got a built in system for controlling garden pests. Chickens (along with guinea fowl and ducks) love to eat Japanese beetles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you're not too squeamish, picking them off plants by hand works nicely too. "Even if you don’t let your chickens scratch in your garden, your handpicking may be more enjoyable because you’ll have something tasty for your birds when you’re finished collecting the beetles," explains Mother Earth News. In late spring, when Japanese beetle larvae are close to the soil surface, letting wild, bug-eating birds work over the area can have a lasting impact, too. Several readers shared that having nesting pairs of robins and bluebirds (which feed insects to their young) is the best way to keep Japanese beetles from getting out of hand.
Related on Organic Authority