Natural, Pesticide-Free Methods for Battling Garden Pests

by in

Pests. They can decimate an entire crop if left unchecked. They can act as a vector for disease. They can also be yucky to handpick. But there are plenty of ways to successfully manage pests and disease in your garden without using pesticides.

Marigold planted by a cabbage for the ally and companion method.
Photo credit: Hanna Jacobs

Prevention

One of the simplest ways to win the battle against pests in the garden is prevention. Crop rotation, healthy soil, row cover, and "ally and companion planting" are the best ways to prevent problems before they happen.

Plant Spanish Brocade Marigold

The scent of the flower attracts the hoverfly, which in turn feeds on insects like aphids. The marigold can be used as an ally and companion plant (pictured above) with a wide range of plants including potatoes, peppers, eggplants, lettuce, beans, and squash.

There is a large selection of vegetation that you can interplant within your garden to attract beneficial pests as well as deter pesky insects from your plants.

Trap Crops

Trap crops can also be used to draw pests away from your garden. Cape gooseberries are a favorite of cucumber beetles and will draw the pest away from your squash plants.

Planting trap crops along the border of your garden also allows you to keep track of pest populations.

Row Cover

Another preventative measure you can take allows you to cover your plants to keep pests out. Lightweight and white, you lay row cover over your crop as soon as it’s planted. It can be left on the crop all season or just until the plants are well established and flowering. This is a great tool against flea beetles, cucumber beetles and more!

Treatment

If you already notice pest pressures on your plants you can use some of the following tools to reduce damage, and prevent other plants from being affected.

High-Pressure Spray

A high-pressure spray of water can sometimes be enough to get insects of your plants. This works best on aphids. Repeat twice a week.

There are homemade sprays you can make that are safe for people, animals, and beneficial insects. Make natural bug repellent sprays from tansy, lavender, and mint.

You can also try making Hanna’s hot pepper and garlic spray to deter various bugs. 

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 teaspoon powdered hot cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap

Grind all ingredients together and pour mixture into an empty spray bottle.

When using a foliar spray, be sure to spray when you’re expecting a string of dry days and after the dew has evaporated.

Handpicking

Not a fun job, but sometimes the most effective. You can handpick tomato horn worms and Colorado potato beetles. Best done in the morning or evening, take a bucket with water out to the garden and drop all insects into it. Repeat twice a week for greater effectiveness.

Hanna Jacobs is the founder and owner of Matchbox Garden & Seed Co. She lives in Haldimand County where she farms on one-and-a-half acres of land and raises her family with her husband, Chef Jason Inniss.

 

Also on CBC