Growing vegetables using organic gardening methods is a great way to enjoy tasty and healthy produce. One of the biggest challenges for organic gardeners is to know how to control pests so they don’t destroy the vegetables.
Organic pest control for growing vegetables can use a number of different methods.
For example, physical barriers can prevent pests laying eggs that produce hungry gorging caterpillars. Also, natural organic pesticides can help to eliminate cabbage moths from destroying your veggies. Introducing organic bacteria into the soil can effectively kill off nasty pests from your vegetable patch. In some cases, homemade natural pesticides can work just as effectively as traditional pest-controlling chemicals.
So, what are the best methods of organic pest control for vegetables in your garden? Read on to find out how you can protect your veggies from pests that can destroy your crops.
Use Organic Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) for Pest Control
For organic gardening methods to be effective, good soil quality is important. One way to organically control pests that affect broccoli, cabbage, and tomatoes is to incorporate Bacillus thuringiensis. This is a naturally occurring type of bacteria for the control of caterpillars.
Does BT really work as organic pest control for caterpillars? According to the University of Georgia, Bacillus thuringiensis kills off caterpillars by affecting their gut. However, you have to add this before caterpillar larvae appear.
Of course, always ensure that you buy good quality organic topsoil to prevent introducing unwanted insects, pests, and larvae into your garden.
Insecticidal Soap and Water to Control Pests on Vegetables
Using the right kind of soap and water can help control populations of pests such as caterpillars, moths and other insects.
Research has shown that insecticidal soaps that contain long-chain fatty acids that kill off aphids, whiteflies, mites and are effective for organic gardening. The soap breaks down the outer layer of common vegetable pests and causes them to dehydrate and die. (1)
Organic Pest Control Sprays for Vegetables
You can also make organic pesticides using a number of ingredients that you should have in your kitchen. Some natural ingredients have a repelling effect and some have an insecticidal effect.
One such ingredient is garlic. Scientific studies have shown that garlic has a toxic effect on some types of larvae. This has the potential for organic pest control without affecting the quality of vegetables grown at home.
How can you use Garlic for Organic Pest Control: Here is a Simple Recipe:
- Puree the all the cloves in a head of garlic
- Chop up 5 or 6 hot chilies
- Put the ingredients in a large jug containing 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 2 cups of water and leave to infuse overnight.
- Carefully strain out the natural homemade pesticide into a spray bottle and add 1 tablespoon of dish soap.
- Shake well and liberally spray on affected pants to kill any bugs and prevent them from returning.
Of course, it is important to test any organic pesticide to make sure it doesn’t negatively affect your plants.
Neem Oil for Organic Vegetable Pest Control
Neem oil is a natural pesticide that can help control a pest problem when growing vegetables.
Scientific research has shown that neem-based products can be used for eco-friendly pest control. This natural pesticide also prevents resistance to disease that can occur when using synthetic pesticides.
All you have to do is combine 60 ml (2 fl. oz) neem oil with 4.5 liters (1 gallon) of water. Apply to your plants to help eliminate aphids, mites, larvae, and caterpillars.
One thing to remember when using neem oil is that it will kill off beneficial insects as well as pests.
Floating Covers for Cabbage Moths Organic Control
Using a thin mesh cover over your cabbages, broccoli or other green leafy vegetables can keep cabbage moths and caterpillars off them. This method works by preventing adult moths and butterflies laying eggs on your growing veggies.
Attract Beneficial Insects to Protect Vegetables from Pests
To grow vegetables organically, attracting beneficial insects can complement your efforts in controlling pests. Of course, this is not a quick-fix method, but in time increasing the number of ladybugs, non-stinging wasps, and birds can reduce pest infestations.
For example, having a birdhouse, a birdbath or a bird feeder can attract birds that feed on caterpillars and other insects.
Also, planting flowering plants such as mint, marigolds, daisies, and clover can attract beneficial bugs that feed on pests. Some types of parasitic wasps are excellent for killing caterpillars, aphids, whiteflies and larvae.
Other Tips for Organic Pest Control for Vegetables
Or course, controlling pests organically in a vegetable garden requires a multi-method approach. Apart from the organic pest control tips already mentioned, there are a few more ways to control pests without resorting to synthetic chemicals. Some of these are:
- Plant early in the season so vegetables are ready for harvesting before swarms of pests can affect them.
- Water in the morning or use a drip irrigation system to keep plants dry throughout the day and evening.
- Rotate crops and don’t plant vegetables from the same family in the same patch more than 2 or 3 years in a row.