More from my part-time job answering folks questions about gardening…
What can you use for organic pest management?
Organic gardeners have several options for pest management. The most important methods work with natural systems to provide long term protection:
Beneficial Insects: Plant hedgerows and flowering insectary plants to attract beneficial insects that help control crop pests. See our flower section for the best varieties to use.
Companion Planting: The age-old practice of companion planting is another method used to repel and deter pests. Certain flowers and herbs grown in near other crops are known to deter pests, improve vigor, and increase yields.
Here is a general list of some of the most common solutions:
Insecticidal Soaps: Some come pre-mixed while others are just mixed with water and sprayed on plants. These are effective for controlling aphids.
Diatomaceaous earth: A fossilized shell which when ground-up, breaks the outer layer of an insect and dessicates them externally on contact or internally by digestion. Useful to control slugs and snails, among other pests.
Bt – Bacillus thuringiensis: This is a naturally occurring bacteria with many powerful insect-specific strains that effectively kill caterpillars and insect larvae, minimizing the harm to beneficial insects. This is usually applied to plants and then ingested by pests.
Pyrethrins: A natural insecticide derived from a specific species of chrysanthemum, these are often combined with soap to provide broad spectrum control of pests. Use only as a last resort since this will kill the beneficial insects as well as the pests.
There are many organic fertilizers on the market today, and sustainable agricultural methods, such as cover cropping, composting, and rotating crops will provide most of a plant’s nutritional needs. Below is a general list of some of the most common materials:
Compost: Well decomposed compost is the best thing you can add to your soil to improve its structure, fertility, and water holding capacity. Make your own or buy from a reputable certified organic source.
Manure: Well decomposed animal manures provide nitrogen, but care must be taken to ensure they are fully composted to prevent potential health issues. The National Organic Program does not allow the use of fresh, raw manures in organic agriculture.
Fish and Kelp: Liquid fish emulsions supply nitrogen, while liquid kelp extracts supply micro-nutrients and help support strong roots and stems. These are especially useful for fertilizing seedlings until they are ready to plant outside.
Ground Rock Powders: These can be mixed with soil to provide Phosphorus, essential minerals and trace elements. Phosphorous supports lush flowering and fruiting.
Natural Fertilizers: Dry powders derived from vegetable and animal sources can provide nutrition and modify the pH of your soil. These include alfalfa meal, cotton seed meal, bone meal, blood meal, and greensand, among others.
Seeds of Change FAQ – http://www.seedsofchange.com/faq.aspx