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Beginner's Guide To Gardening: Organic Pest Control

Aphids On A Leaf

We're talking pesticides here, as in "Pick them right off that leaf." Pluck them and chuck them!

Granted, a nifty slogan doesn't address details, though I think we all know what I'm talking about here. But, let's address the facts: when growing organically, the job of bug killing belongs in your capable hands - gloved hands, if you know what's good for you.

Smarter Than Conventional Gardeners

When you're an organic gardener, you face challenges that conventional gardeners don't, especially when it comes to bugs. While others may be content with a chemical spritz from their spray bottle, or a toxic toss of their powders, you refuse such tactics. No way, no how! You are not going to add potential hazards to your otherwise healthy garden. Choosing organic methods requires you to be smarter than the bugs and quicker than the beasts.

It's up to you to be vigilant and determined. In other words, to be a successful organic gardener you must become skilled in the "battle of the bugs." Yep, we're talking dispatch 101.

As for you sensitive hearts, don't worry: killing isn't a requirement. So long as you relocate the pesky invaders out and away from your garden so they can't devour your leaves and vegetables, you're good to go.

Employing The Help Of Others

One way to rid your garden of pests is by inviting a few of your neighborhood ladybugs and frogs to move in. Let's say we make it a party and ask a few friendly dragonflies to join the mix along with a cardinal or two.

According to the laws of Mother Nature, everyone needs to eat, including insects, birds and amphibians. Did you know ladybugs love aphids, while frogs consume crickets and spiders like they're going out of style? That, and dragonflies make a feast of mosquitoes and flies.

Cardinals apparently feed grasshoppers to their young. Have you ever heard of anything more glorious? Grasshoppers can prove to be a horrible nuisance when it comes to plants. And I must confess, anything that keeps them on the run receives an extra star in my garden journal.

Feeding On Your Veggies Before You Do

For those with a squeamish stomach, relax. You'll get over any ill-feelings quickly once you see the devastation wrought by these garden marauders. Incredibly, all your hard work and plant care can be reduced to stems in a matter of hours.

Aphids can literally suck the life out of your plants. And don't even get me started on tomato hornworms or their friend the hungry caterpillar.

This is why you'll want to make daily garden visits a part of your routine. Not only do they make for a lovely stroll, but you'll spot any damage before it becomes a problem (i.e. infestation).


But here's the good news: hornworms and caterpillars are easy to catch (albeit difficult to spot) and easily pulled from the vine. Do you have kids? Enlist their eagle eyes to root out the troublemakers hidden deep within the lush green foliage. I don't know about you, but I find older eyes encounter a bit of trouble in differentiating bright green worms from bright green leaves.

Other tips include setting beer out for slugs and snails. It seems that they have an affinity for the stuff but find it easier to get into than out of. Diatomaceous earth is said to wreak havoc on the insides of many garden pests, effectively ending their romp through your plants. Garlic spray works wonders at repelling insects, particularly aphids, as does neem oil.

Plant Friends

Of course you can always plan ahead by referring to your handy-dandy list of companion plants and organize your garden sections accordingly.

For instance, rosemary deters cabbage moths, dill attracts hornworms, marigolds repel whiteflies, while lavender nourishes a host of beneficial insects.

These are just a few examples, but with a bit of homework on your part you can unearth a wealth of other advantageous relationships and revel in the joy of knowing your garden is chemical and poison-free.

More: Not all animals in your garden are pests. Some of them do wonders for your plants! Cue the pollinators!

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