Okay … you’ve got your garden crops, flowers and trees planted. They seem to be thriving – you’ve already been harvesting peas and lettuces, you have sunny-looking flowers that greet you every morning on your way out the door, and the trees are shooting up, well, like new trees are supposed to. You’re determined to keep it this way, too. It’s time to protect your plants from pests.
Getting Comfortable with Pesticides
For some folks, just hearing the word, “pesticide” conjures chemically-induced killing fests of anything that attacks plants, causing them to whither and even die – such as insects, slugs, snails, rodents, weeds and disease. Not to mention, the environment. Can you say, DDT?
However, not all pesticides are toxic man-made chemicals. They can be natural and organically sourced, too. There are three types of pesticides to look for:
Systemic Pesticides – enter the plant through its root system and infiltrate every part of the plant. Systemic pesticides are not recommended for food crops.
Contact Pesticides – must come into contact with the pest to be effective, i.e. smother and kill the pest. Products such as insecticidal soap and horticultural oils must be sprayed directly to the affected area when the pest is present, rather than spraying in advance of an attack.
Residual Pesticides – cling to the surface of plant parts and stay viable for a certain amount of time afterward. Most pesticides are categorized as residual, meaning the offending pest that’s currently ruining your plants will die – and so will the little buggers that show up tomorrow. The length of time a residual pesticide stays active depends on the temperature, rainfall and sunlight.
Whether organic or chemical, if you’re constantly using pesticides to treat your garden –every week or two – something else is going with your garden, beyond pest attack:
- Are your plants constantly moist?
- Do they get enough sun?
- Is the mulch propagating disease, unlike compost, which is oftentimes disease-preventing?
- Can you blast the pest right off the plant with water or air?
- Are you using harsh chemical fertilizers to feed the plants?
Bring your plant protection back to basics – consistent cleaning, limited prevention and switching to compost can help.
All the rage now, organic pesticides have actually been used long before chemical pesticides were invented – ever since farmers have been farming, in fact. Here’s a list of inexpensive, all-natural, organic methods for protecting your plants from pests:
- Neem – used by Native Americans, neem is a bitter tree leaf that comes in oil and juice form. The juice is considered the most powerful natural pesticide on Earth.
- Salt Spray – great for spider mites infestations, this mixture is most potent with the use of Himalayan Crystal Salt in warm water, sprayed on infected areas.
- Mineral Oil – dehydrates insects and their eggs.
- Citrus Oil and Cayenne Pepper Mix – ants really dislike these two bug-busters.
- Soap, Orange Citrus Oil and Water – effective against slugs, ants and cockroaches.
- Eucalyptus Oil – zaps wasps, yellow jackets and other pests that fly.
- Onion and Garlic Spray – stays potent against pests for at least a week, if stored in the ‘fridge. We hear it helps with vampires, too.
- Chrysanthemum Flower Tea – pyrethrum is the chemical component that makes this such a killer. It infects an insect’s nervous system rendering it immobile. Can be stored for up to two months.
- Tobacco Spray – commonly used getting rid of caterpillars and aphids. Do not use on tomato, pepper, eggplant or other plants in the solanaceous family … or humans, we’ve been told.
- Chili pepper and Diatomaceous Earth – to rid the soil of ants and slugs.
Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From insect and lawn sprayers to landscaping tools, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.