Organic bug busters for your garden – North Coast Courier

organic-bug-busters-for-your-garden-–-north-coast-courier

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Creepy-crawlies of all shapes and sizes are par for the course when it comes to gardening. Many are friendly, but some seem set to destroy your hard work in their quest for a tasty snack.
Fortunately, there are some inexpensive and natural ways to help prevent unwanted visitors to your garden and infesting your plants.
Stodels Garden Centre in the Western Cape (www.stodels.com) offers guidelines for keeping your garden pest-free with minimal chemical intervention.
Insecticides
The most significant disadvantage of using broad-spectrum chemical insecticides is that they kill off the good insects in your garden along with the bad. They also harm natural predators, like birds and small animals, which feed off the bugs.
Up to 95% of insects in your garden are either harmless or help your plants. For example, butterflies and bees are essential for fertilising flowers and fruit, ants clear away insect eggs and weed seeds, and dragonflies eat aphids and mosquitoes.
Before you resort to insecticides – even organic varieties– make sure you follow these guidelines:

Regularly inspect plants for any signs of disease. If you spot a pest infestation early, it will be easier to deal with them. By catching it soon enough, you could even be able to quickly solve the problem with a strong spray of water.
It is best to spot-treat problem areas rather than spraying the entire garden bed. However, the more you spray, the greater your chances of killing good insects that could help your pest-control efforts.
Keep an eye on the weather. Spraying in very windy weather will be challenging to target problem areas. And spraying just before it rains will simply be a waste of your time.

Companion planting
Companion planting is when you plant flowers, vegetables, and herbs close together that benefit each other.
For example, marigolds and parsley are good companion plants for asparagus because they repel asparagus beetles. Dill is a suitable companion plant for broccoli as it attracts beneficial wasps, which prey on insect pests.

Marigolds repel many insects and help keep nematodes away from root vegetables, which works very well when planted close to any veggie or herb garden.
Planting garlic bulbs or chillies between rows of vegetables or roses will repel aphids and other insects – most bugs dislike their scent.
Many herbs also have insect-repelling properties. Thyme, mint and nasturtiums are all excellent choices for your garden and vegetable patch as they help to ward off aphids.

Outdoor entertainment
To discourage flies or mosquitoes, you can add these plants to areas surrounding your outdoor entertaining areas:

Aromatic plants like chives, mint, basil, buchu, lemongrass, lavender, scented pelargoniums and confetti bush work extra well if planted in areas where people will brush against them to release their scent.
Creeping mint varieties like pennyroyal and Corsican mint can be planted between stepping stones and pavers as they will release their insect-repelling scent when they are stepped on.
Catnip is an excellent mosquito repellent, so make sure you plant some close to your patio or garden bench. Cats also love it.

Coarse surfaces
Snails don’t like walking over uneven, coarse surfaces; therefore, one of the easiest ways to keep snails from attacking your precious seedlings is to surround the plants with crushed eggshells or pine needles.
These snail deterrents have the added benefit of boosting the level of beneficial nutrients in the soil.
DIY insecticides
Make your own natural insect repellents:

Mix dried chillies or powdered garlic with water and spray it on the plants you want to protect.
Garlic spray won’t kill insects, but the strong garlic smell masks the smell of scented flowers such as roses, making it harder for insect pests to find them.
Rape or canola oil is harmless to pets, fish and birds. Spray on the underside of leaves – especially rose leaves – to smother red spider mite.

Neem extract is extracted from the kernel of the fruit of the neem tree. It is a natural insecticide that interferes with the insect’s hormonal life cycle.

Potassium salts of fatty acids dissolve the shells of tiny insect pests, such as aphids and white flies. After 12 hours, there is no residual effect, so it’s an excellent choice for vegetable gardens.

Organic insecticides
If you have reached the end of your bug-busting rope and need to get for the spray bottle, then rather consider one of these non-toxic, organic insecticides:

Biogrow Pyrol controls aphids and red spider mites.
Biogrow Bioneem targets mites, aphids, fruit flies, American bollworms, snout beetles and codling moths.
Margaret Roberts Biological Caterpillar Insecticide is ideal for targeting leaf-eating caterpillars/
Margaret Roberts Organic Insecticide deals with whiteflies, red spider mites and aphids.
Kirchhoff’s Ludwig’s Insect Spray+ targets aphids, ants, American bollworms, red spider mites, thrips, beetles and wood-eating termites.
Efekto Eco Insect Control SC will eradicate leafminers, thrips, lawn caterpillars and American bollworms.
Biogrow Ferramol is an organic way to deal with slugs and snails.

Your garden must be kept bug free, and applying the measures highlighted above is a sure way to do it.

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