Many principlesof organic gardening - using manures and
compost, and taking measures to deter pests and diseases rather than simply
destroying them with chemicals - are familiar to most gardeners. But
gardening organically involves looking at the garden as a whole. You
must take into account the condition of the soil and the climate. You
can then make decisions about the need for improving some aspects and
altering others to produce the most fruitful and healthy plants as
beneficial bacteria releases the nutrients for plant use.
Using Other Organic Controls
There are several different types of organic treatments available to gardeners, but
availibility may be limited.
Insecticidal Soaps Use these for
effective control of aphids, spider mites, thrips, leafhoppers, scale insects, mealybuggs,
and whiteflies. Insecticidal soaps are made from fatty acids produced by animal or
plant sources. The soaps are not selective in their action, however, and last only
approximately one day.
Copper-based fungicides are suitable for use on edible crops. They control a range
of plant diseases, including potato blights, celery leaf spot, apple canker, bacterial
canker and leaf spots on fruits.
Sulfur Use sulfur to control diseases such
as storage rots and powdery mildew on ornamental plants and fruits.
Spraying Always use a
good-quality sprayer to apply a control, and be sure to wash it out thoroughly between
applications. Never keep leftover solution for future use.
Never allow spray to drift onto open flowers, especially blossoms, or you may harm
visiting bees. Spray at sunset if necessary.
It is usually safe to eat most crop plants fairly soon after an organic control has been
applied, but always check the product label carefully for preparation details.
Homemade Bug Remedies
Finely chop a dozen or so garlic cloves, and dump them in for ounces of
mineral oil. Soak the cloves in the oil for a day or two. Strain the mixture,
and add three or four drops of regular dishwashing liquid. Then dilute it with about
a half cup of water, and pour into a hand-held or tank sprayer. This is an
all-purpose spray for all sorts of pests, but it's a nonselective spray, which means it
will kill beneficial insects as well as bad bugs in your garden.
Put a cup of chili peppers such as jalapenos in a blender or food
processor. Add four cups of water, and puree the mixture. Then strain the
stuff, and pour it into a sprayer. Again, you've got a nonselective spray, so use it
to target only the harmful insects. Be extremely careful to not get this spray in
your eyes or even on your skin.
Another insect eliminator is nicotine, Put a package of chewing tobacco
in a quart jar of water, and let the jar sit out in the hot sun for a day so that the
tobacco has a chance to steep slowly. Then strain the mixture into a sprayer.
This mixture is poisonous and can actually be absorbed by the skin, so be careful.
It can also be absorbed by the leaves of plants, so don't use it on food crops.
The USDA recommends mixing together dishwashing detergent and cooking
oil to get a powerful control for aphids, whiteflies and red spider mites. First,
make a concentrate by adding one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap with one cup of
vegetable oil. When you're ready to spray, add one or two teaspoons of the oil
and soap solution to a cup of water. Pour that into a sprayer and shake well.
Another homemade pest control uses plain old isopropyl or rubbing
alchohol. A cotton ball soaked in this and wiped over leaf surfaces will kill a
number of bugs such as aphids, mealybugs, red spider mites, scales and whiteflies that are
notorius for attacking houseplants. To spray an entire plant, add one cup of the
alchohol to one quart of water, and spray away.
If you don't want to bother mixing these home remedies to get rid of
your bug problems, consider using a more high-tech approach, a hand-held vacuum. Pay
particular attention to leaves, especially the undersides, where bugs love to hide.