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 Yard and Garden » Natural Pest and Disease Control 101

Natural Pest and Disease Control 101

Somehow it seems like overkill to use powerful chemicals to protect our plants against insects and diseases. Granted they work quickly and efficiently against the attackers, but what other benificial organisms have they also eliminated. When does the cycle stop, how many toxic chemicals will we expose ourselves and the landscape to as we risk disrupting the natural ecosystem?

All things being equal an organic approach is safer and more effective, we can work with nature to enjoy a healthier garden and body.

Not all insects are enemies. Some are pollinators, some break down organic matter, and some are beneficial predators that feed on the real enemies. Effective methods such as physical barriers, traps, and specific biological agents, are available to assist in your efforts to protect your garden and at the same time maintain a safe, harmonious natural environment. Lacewings lay eggs attached to leaves or stems, the larvae eat 200 - 300 aphids in their lifetime, lady bug larvae eat 30 aphids per day. By planting fennel, dill, allyssum, ammi majus, and cumin you will encourage helpful insects to your garden.

Unhealthy plants are usually the ones attacked, so the key to preventive control is taking good care of your plants. This means paying attention to them and providing them with the conditions they need for healthy, vigorous growth.

Wait until all foliage is completely dry, working among wet leaves easily spreads disease from the ground to plants and from one plant to another.

Grow your plants in healthy soil with organic matter added to your garden every year to improve nutrient levels, soil structure, and water-holding capacity.

Make sure your plants are getting all the water and nutrients they need, supplemented with organic fertilizers.

Keep weeds under control, use mulches, such as landscape fabric or plastic, and pull weeds every time you visit the garden.

Follow thinning instructions on seed packets so the plants are not overcrowded and there is air circulation around them.

Walk on paths or stepping stones in the garden so you are not compacting the soil making it difficult for air and water to reach the plant roots.

Clean up your garden in the fall, get rid of old vines, tomato plants and other debris as insects will winter in them and get an early start in the spring.

Remove any diseased or infected plants, till other debris into the soil or put it in the compost pile.

Many insect and disease-causing organisms winter in the soil near their host plants so practice crop rotation, wait two years before planting related crops in the same spot. Potatoes, tomatoes and onions are especially vulnerable to problems when grown in the same place year after year.

Crop rotation also helps keep soil nutrients in balance over time. Heavy feeders, such as tomatoes and lettuce, can be followed the next year by legumes, such as peas and beans, which actually return nitrogen to the soil through microorganisms on their roots. The third year, you can let the soil "rest" by planting light feeders in that spot, such as carrots or beets.

Placing smaller groups of plants throughout the garden, rather than planting all of your potatoes, say, in one place, it will make it difficult for pests to converge on the whole lot. Mixing marigolds and strong-smelling herbs in among your plants can deter insect pests by masking the smell of the plants they want to eat.

Interplanting herbs and flowers that attract beneficial insects, such as dill or fennel, is another effective method.

Try companion planting such as:

Basil with tomatoes
Carrots with leaf lettuce
Onions and garlic deter pests that attack roses
Swiss chard and beans
Corn and cucumbers
Marigolds planted as a border will discourage both insects and animal pests.
Check seed catalogues for varieties that have a strong natural resistance to insects or disease.

If slugs are a problem in your area, try this trick in your cabbages. Remove the older, yellowing leaves closest to the soil. Not only will the garden look better, slugs will have a harder time crawling into your cabbages and doing any damage.

Slugs can be kept out of containers by rubbing vaseline around the rim of the container.

Toilet roll cores cut in half and placed around seedlings will keep cutworms away.

Crushed egg shells spread around seedlings will deter slugs and add calcium to the soil.

 Click here for the Gardens Alive Comprehensive Pest and Disease Guide

Controlling Four-legged Intruders

For larger animals a perimiter fence around the garden or your yard is the easiest solution, unfortunately certain creatures will simply crawl under or climb or jump over it. If deer are leaping over your fence consider a second fence inside the first made with surveyors tape three feet of the ground on stakes, four or five feet away from the outside fence. Other people have made a secure second fence and used it for a dog run, killing two birds with one stone. For large areas a fence is not always an economical or quick solution therefore other measures have to be taken, what we want to do is discourage their intrusion without physically harming them.

Deer Repellents

If you have mature plants that are being devoured by deer -- it’s time to take action! Deer Repellents can be very effective and easy to use.

Deer will almost always stay away from plants that offend two or more senses. Therefore, if a plant tastes and smells offensive deer will avoid the general area it’s planted in. Deer resistant gardener use’s this knowledge to their advantage.

Yardiac.com recommends using two deer deterrents together (one that offends the sense of smell and one that offends the sense of taste) they will render your tasty plant repulsive to deer.

The best combination we have found is:

Tree Guard or Hot Pepper Wax used in conjunction with Coyote Urine.

Using two products will activate the sense of smell and taste and encourage the deer to move on to more attractive foliage (hopefully not your neighbors) You can learn more about or purchase these products at Yardiac.com’s animal repellent department.

Deer hate hot and spicy foods

After one little nibble of a plant coated with hot pepper wax they will definitely say, “No thank you!” when it comes time for seconds. Hot pepper wax combines hot cayenne pepper extract in a food-grade wax. Unlike some solutions, the wax will not wash off of your plants for several weeks.

Applying hot pepper wax to the surfaces of your plants & hanging dispensers filled with Coyote Urine is possibly the most effective method of protecting your plants from deer browsing. Why do predator urine and hot pepper wax work best when used together? Most deer deterrents work on the premise of “offending” one of the deer’s five senses: sight, taste, smell, hearing or touch. Predator urine works on the sense of smell, while hot pepper wax works on the sense of taste. Using these two products together you are not just offending one sense but two.

Say Bye to Bambi enter the Deer Repellent Department Here

Say Goodbye to Moles and Voles Forever!

Getting rid of moles and voles can be a difficult task! However by following a few simple steps it can be done.

If you are looking for a quick removal of the pesky vagrants use the Yardiac.com Whole control. This concentrate is sprayed directly into the areas where armadillos, moles, voles, gophers, and other burrowing animals are digging.

It is not a poison and will not hurt any animals. Whole Control will leave a residual in the ground which tastes awful. As invaders dig, they will come in contact with the bad tasting soil and quickly decide the bad taste is too strong and prompt them to find food elsewhere.

For a more permanent control we recommend using the Yardiac.com Mole and Vole Eradication Program. It requires using all three of the following products in combination.

1) Whole Control Spray -- Effective immediately
2) Vole Block -- Provides a long term underground barrier
3) Milky Spore--Gets rid of the grubs that moles love to eat for up to 15 years!

To learn more or to purchase the Yardiac.com Mole & Vole Control program click here

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