There are over 1000 different kinds of insects in your
garden, only a handful are harmful garden pests. Most are beneficial
and a necessary part of any natural system, including your garden.
The goal of an organic gardener is to limit
the damage done by the pests without causing major harm to the environment. The
following is a list of some of the methods.
Barrier: Lightweight floating row covers keep insects off
crops. The regular weight allows some heat buildup and can be used
as season extenders in the Spring and Fall. The super light cover
is used for an insect barrier in the Summer. For crops requiring
pollination, the covers must be removed when flowering starts.
Physical removal. Hand picking and destroying the pests
is an effective method. I have had good success controlling potato
bugs by shaking the plants into a lined basket or box. Potato bugs
fall off easily into the box. Also, a butterfly net comes in handy. I
use it to capture flea beetles on eggplants and the white cabbage worm
butterflies fluttering around, looking for a cabbage family plant to
lay its eggs on.
Traps. Trap slugs in a shallow dish containing beer. Commercially
available slug traps are also available. If you cant stand to waste
good beer, mix your own brew: 1 Tbs. molasses, 3 Tbs. cornmeal, 1/2 cup
flour, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 Tbs. yeast. Sticky red spheres
hung in apple trees help trap apple maggot flies. Japanese beetle
traps are effective if placed in the right location. I use home
made sticky yellow traps to get cucumber beetles. Nail a small
board on a stake, paint it yellow, and coat with brush on insect rap
Biological Pest control: There are several types of beneficial
insects available which, when released, will attack a particular pest
species. The trichogramma wasp lay's it's eggs on
the eggs of cabbage worms, cut worms, corn borers, and others. The
larvae feed on the eggs and destroy the pest eggs. Spray containing
the bacteria containing bacillus thuringiensis has long been used to
control cabbage worms and other related species. However, its effectiveness
decreases within days of it's application. the new bio-engineered
sprays can be effective for up to a week.
Botanical Sprays. Natural insecticides made from certain plants
are the heavy weights of organic pest control. Rotenone, pyrethrin,
sabadilla, and others are broad spectrum poisons and should be used sparingly. Fortunately,
these insecticides break down quickly and there fore do not leave residues.
Products mentioned above are available from
some garden supply stores and catalogs including Gardens Alive, 5100
Schenley place, Lawrenceburg IN 47025