Organic gardening is gaining an exhilarating amount of popularity these days. Organic gardening is a type of gardening done without synthetic products such as pesticides and fertilizers. Natural products are used to grow plants in the garden. It is used mainly because of its ability to replenish natural resources. In organic gardening, plants are considered as part of a larger system that starts with the soil, wildlife, water supply, and insects.
Every one of us wants to follow a healthy diet and have our environment to be safe. An organic gardener aims to ensure that its activities are in tandem with the ecosystem and strives to minimize its carbon footprint.
Benefits of growing an organic garden
Here are a few benefits of growing an organic garden.
The vegetables and fruits growing in your organic garden will not have shiny and uniform exterior, but they will taste far superior to the ones you get at the supermarket. Nothing tastes better than vegetables and fruits start from the garden. You can eat organic vegetables raw without worrying about the chemicals and pesticides.
An organic garden has no toxic chemicals. It means your produce is also free from chemicals. There will zero residue on your fruits and vegetables. You won’t be required to wash them thoroughly before consuming them. Research suggests that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher content of minerals and vitamins than the ones grown with fertilizers and pesticides.
By growing vegetables and fruits in an organic garden, you know what you are putting in your body. Moreover, planting and harvesting your produce is therapeutic.
Having your organic garden means you don’t have to spend tons of money buying organic produce from a farmers market, which costs way more than a regular supermarket. You save money and the fuel cost of driving to the farmers market.
If you have leftover produce from your organic garden, it can be preserved through the winter without buying “greenhouse” vegetables from the supermarket.
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Since organic gardening is devoid of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers, none of the harmful chemicals can enter the water supply. Using chemical fertilizers to grow vegetables will repel beneficial insects and harm some animal animals and birds.
Using organic matter to build the soil leads to less erosion in the area. Another benefit of opting for an organic garden is the use of organic waste into compost that helps relieve landfills.
How to Keep Bugs Out of Your Organic Garden?
The more we find out about the harmful effects of synthetic pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides, the more we learn that they are not only harmful to the environment but the people and animals too. Synthetics pesticides and herbicides create more problems.
Keeping bugs out of the garden can be tedious; therefore, most people take the easy way out by using chemicals. It is a quick fix but much more harmful in the long run. Now, keeping bugs out isn’t an issue if you have a few effective and natural ways of doing it.
Besides, many insects and bugs tend to build immunity to pesticides and come back even stronger. Furthermore, a lot of pesticides and insecticides can harm smaller animals and birds.
The best plan would be to avoid the need to use pesticides in the first place. Your organic garden doesn’t need chemicals to produce vegetables and fruits. All you need to is ensure you are properly taking care of it by allowing sufficient sunlight, pruning when necessary, taking care of the soil, etc.
Here are a few organic ways of keeping bugs out of your organic garden.
Repellents and Barriers
Repellents and barriers help keep the insects and bugs out of the garden. They function like a wall that prevents the creepy crawlies from entering your garden and invading the vegetables and fruits. For instance, if you plant your carrots in toilet paper rolls, cutworms won’t be able to penetrate it to get inside.
Certain plants and herbs can also act as barriers such as peppermint, pennyroyal, and spearmint naturally deter ants and aphids. So, plant them all over your garden to keep the pests at bay.
Another method that helps keep bugs out is by simmering cedar twigs in water, cooling it, and then spraying it all over your plants to deter corn earworms, cutworms, and other pests. Use a line of lime to keep the snails away. Iron phosphate (natural material used as a supplement for nutrition) keeps the slugs out of the vicinity. Ants avoid cayenne pepper like the plague.
If you don’t want to use the DIY pesticide, then you can buy organic pest control products that work on anything crawling around your organic garden.
Traps and Lures
We are aware of the common mousetrap. Well, it can be used to catch insects as well. Traps use food, pheromones, or visual lures to attract pests and catch them without hurting other animals in the environment.
Traps are typically used to either control or monitor a population of pests. When used to monitor a population, they help determine when the insects emerge and how many are there in the area. The trap also helps determine the type of pests.
Traps capture the insects and usually kill them. Traps alone can sometimes be more than enough to control pest problems. Other times, it is best used in combination with other pest management methods. For instance, fly traps are great for attracting adult flies while fly parasites kill fly pupae.
Natural pesticides are typically botanical, which means they come from plants with insecticidal properties. Compared to chemical and synthetic pesticides, they have a lower toxic effect and brown down a lot quicker in the environment. However, they are still poisonous and so should be used as a last resort.
Neem is used for gypsy moth, loopers, thrips, whitefly, mealybug, and caterpillars.
The pyrethrum is used to deter cabbageworm, flies, aphid, harlequin bug, Mexican bean beetle, squash bug, spider mite, and leafhopper.
Nicotine Sulfate is used for thrips, aphids, spider mites, and other insects.
Rotenone is used for cabbageworm, Colorado potato beetle, flea beetle, Japanese beetle, Mexican bean beetle, spittlebug, mites, aphid, and carpenter ant.
Sabadilla is used for blister beetle, cucumber beetle, leafhopper, harlequin bug, stink bug, armyworm, and blister beetle.
You will need to do extensive research before selecting an insecticide that works well for your problem. Once you decide which one you want, avoid blanket spraying it on the whole garden to minimize the risk of poisoning.
Oils and Soaps
Insecticide oils and soaps work effectively on soft-bodied sucking insects such as spider mites, mealy bugs, whitefly, and aphids. Yet, they are less effective on hard-bodied adult insects, such as beetles. Oils and soups are typically used to control immature eggs and larvae. Also, the timing of the application is important when using natural insecticides.
Insecticidal soap has fatty acids that penetrate the insect’s outer shell causing the cells to collapse, eventually killing them. The insects need to be attacked directly as it is not effective when dried. Soaps are the least toxic pesticides and will not harm beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantis.
Horticultural oil is refined paraffinic oil mixed with water and sprayed on the plants in the garden. It works by covering and suffocating the pests and the eggs. It is used throughout the year during both the dormant and growing season.
Plants, diseases, and insects can be avoided if there are proper soil drainage and adequate air movement. However, when these things don’t work, your plants can show signs of moldy coatings, rust, wilting, rotted tissues, and scabs. When that happens, it is time to apply fungicides.
Copper and sulfur are the two organic fungicides used by people growing an organic garden as they have low toxicity to humans and animals. However, you still need to be careful and always read the instructions before applying.
Copper fungicide is used on roses, fruits, turf, and vegetables. For good results, apply it before your plants start showing visible signs of disease. Liquid fungicide is used against powdery mildew, peach leaf curl, black spot, anthracnose, bacterial leaf spot, and rust. Spray your plants thoroughly and repeat after every 10 days.
Sulfur Fungicide is a ground wettable powder used on flowers, fruits, and vegetables. The fine particles provide proper coverage and adhesion over leaf surfaces and fruits. Sulfur fungicide is effective against rust, brown rot, powdery mildew, and more. Avoid applying it during high temperatures or within 14 days of oil spray; otherwise, it can burn your plants.
You can use a bio fungicide called Serenade Garden Disease Control. It is organic and contains a strain of Bacillus subtilis. It protects against most bacterial and fungal diseases such as botrytis, fire blight, powdery mildew, scab, bacterial leaf blight, early blight, and late blight. Use it before the development of a disease or at the first sign of disease for the best results. Apply every 7 to 10 days.
Room to Breath
To keep the bugs out of the organic garden is to go by the mantra of “better to be safe than sorry.” Try to ensure treating your organic garden with utmost care so that there is no room for the bugs and pests to invade it.
All of us want to plant as many plants as we possibly can in our organic garden. Taking care will give you a temporary sense of satisfaction, and you may think you will get an abundant amount of produce, but it’s not good for the long run. Your plant must get some air circulation every day.
Plants planted too close to each other act as a shelter for insects from heat and predators. The insects raise their families there and have plenty of food to munch on. If you plan on planting the plants close to each other, then monitor it frequently for any pests.
Water in the Morning
Watering your garden in the morning is easier said than done; you should still give it your best shot. Try to water your garden as early in the morning as possible. Your plants will be hydrated during the hottest part of the day, and they will become less stressed.
Stressed plants are more appealing to insects and pests the same way humans with low immunity due to stress are more susceptible to viruses and diseases.
Another advantage of watering the morning is that the plants will have time to dry off before evening. Damp plants are an ideal area for pests like snails, earwigs, and slugs to live, especially if they are closely planted.
It is also recommended to water a couple of times a week once rather than wetting the surfacing of the soil and leaves every day. Annual plants require more water because of the shallow root system.
As for the rain, a little is always welcomed with open arms. A lot of rain, however, can cause problems. You will have to keep an eye on the weather to see if there is a storm cover up your garden.
Attract Birds, Toads, and Frogs
Make your garden attractive for the animals that feed on insects such as toads and frogs. Sometimes all it takes to invite them is a bowl of water. You can also have a toad house in the garden to see if one takes up residence there. Most times, toads dig the soil and wait for the insects at dinner time.
Birds tend to get a bad rap in the organic garden. They do nibble on fruits, but they also munch on different insects to get protein. You don’t necessarily have to go out the way to attract birds; all you need to do is have a bowl of water or a fountain near the garden and plant more food sources to shelter them, such as shrubs and small trees.
Birds don’t prefer feeding out in the open where there is no place to hide from predators.
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Attract Beneficial Insects
It can be hard to determine which insects are the bad guys and which ones are the good guys. Not all insects come to destroy your vegetable garden by eating your harvest. Some insects are carnivores that will help reduce the pest population the way pest control sprays cant. They don’t have a white suit and a white hat; that’s why you will have to inform yourself about which insects are good for your garden.
For example, ladybugs are excellent for the garden. They act like a vacuum cleaner when it comes to eating aphids.
It doesn’t take a lot to attract beneficial insects. All you need to do is leave them alone after they are done eating the pests. However, some of those insects need nectar and pollen as much as they need protein from pests, so have lots of flowers around the garden.
Check on Your Harvest
Falling behind on the harvest isn’t that big of a problem, but the fruits and vegetables falling off and staying on the ground will look like a food festival to the insects. An overripe vegetable and fruit still on the plant will weaken it, attracting insects. Make sure to pick up the fallen fruit and vegetable on the ground and clean any overripe harvest still clinging to the plants.
Harvest the oversized beans and fruits and then water your plants. Also, give your plants a light feeding and then give them time to recuperate. Meanwhile, keep yourself alert for any insects that might make a move by using organic insecticides.
Organic gardens are extremely beneficial to the environment. You can never go wrong with growing fruits and vegetables naturally. It is the ultimate method of preserving a green environment encouraging the ecological balance. By growing an organic garden and using eco-friendly pesticides, you are making a contribution to alleviate the climate change problem in the long run.
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
I am sharing all the practical tips on how to grow various plants, flower plants, vegetables in the garden. Read more about me.