Organic Insect Control
Create a natural balance in your garden to control pests
Insect Control the Organic Way
Creating a balance of life
Gardening organically depends on creating a balance of life on the plot of earth you till. Ideally, sprays, dusts and traps become unnecessary as beneficial predators and parasites reach the point where they can keep the numbers of potential pests at a low, tolerable level.
The key word here is "tolerable." It describes a peaceful state of garden activity in which the bugs keep themselves in line, with the only price to the gardener being occasional nibbles taken out of a few crops.
|If you can tolerate the minor losses necessary to keep a few plant-eaters around, you should always have a supply of beneficial insects at hand.|
Obviously, chemicals are inimical to this delicate balance of life. But many organic gardeners don't realize that nontoxic homemade sprays can also upset the balance and pave the way for a pest infestation. So the best advice for pulling any crops through the season can be expressed in a short sentence: Don't interfere until the bug damage becomes intolerable.
Healthy vs weak plants
There is much you can do to avoid insect troubles. As many gardeners have found, healthy plants are more able to withstand infestations than are weak plants. Perhaps this is nature's way of censoring inferior strains of life. Whatever the reason, examples occur throughout the homestead.
It is the weak, underfed, rough-coated calves—and not the suckling, fat, smooth-coated ones—that are eaten up with lice. A sickly hen in the flock will always carry most of the lice. Trees weakened by drought, leaky gas mains, or loss of roots due to excavation are more heavily attacked by borers than are nearby healthy trees of the same species.
A fundamental way to maintain healthy plants is to make sure they get a balance of nutrients, and this can only be brought about with a healthy soil. Plants need nitrogen, but an overdose has been found to make the plants overly succulent and to encourage various sucking insects. It is best to make nitrogen available to plants slowly, by using organic fertilizers.
Protecting plants with other plants
Another important strategy of prevention is protecting plants with other plants. This can be accomplished in several ways. First of all, plants fare better if not grown in monoculture, that is, in a field or plot given to just one crop.
Growing row after row of a pest's favorite food is asking for trouble, and the chances of an infestation are reduced if a different vegetable is grown every two or three rows. A pest can be further discouraged by companion planting or planting crops it likes next to plants it can't stand.
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