Pest control must be done with utmost consideration to safety; safety in terms of the plants, animals, and humans. This holds especially true for those with vegetable and organic gardens.
The main purpose of growing vegetables organically will be defeated if they become tainted with pest control chemicals.
Here are a few long-term maintenance tips to make pest control less damaging and more environmentally friendly.
1. Use the physical pest control process.
This may be accomplished through picking grubs off by hand, creating barriers and traps, and plugging holes. Snails can be found hiding in damp places under rocks and towards the base of those plants with straplike foliage.
2. Apply biological pest control.
Encourage predatory insects such as ladybirds and dragonflies to feed on aphids and other pests that attack your plants. You can attract ladybirds by planting herbs such as coriander, fennel, and dill in the garden. Ladybirds also like to live in well-watered gardens because they need to drink frequently. Also, consider a bird bath or placing a bowl of water in your garden. Dragonflies especially will hover around water. Bacterial insecticides such as B. thuringiensis could also be used against caterpillars.
3. Only as a last resort should we turn to chemical pest control.
Organic pest control methods can be successful and the ingredients for many of the recipes can be found in the kitchen cupboards. If chemical sprays are really necessary, try and find the least-toxic. These include insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, dehydrating dusts, etc.
4. Consider the use of safer pest control substitutes.
Recipes for alternative pest control include the following:
Against Green Aphids and Mites - Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and a cup of vegetable oil. Dilute a teaspoon of this solution in a cup of water and spray on aphids and mites.
Against Slugs and Snails - Follow these easy steps for making beer traps for slugs:
Gather up several inexpensive plastic containers, preferably with lids. Recycled yogurt containers or margarine tubs are an appropriate size for making beer traps for slugs.
Cut a few holes near the top of the plastic container. The slugs will use these holes to access the trap.
Bury the containers in the ground with about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) remaining above the soil line. Keeping the containers slightly above the soil level helps prevent beneficial insects from falling into the traps. Concentrate the containers in areas of the garden where slug problems are the greatest.
Pour 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm.) of beer or beer substitute into each container. Place the lids on the containers.
Check the traps regularly. Add beer or beer substitute as needed. Remove dead slugs regularly.
Finally, make sure that the chemicals you use are made specifically for the insects you are targeting.