Pest control is a necessary evil in gardening. It must be done with utmost concern for 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 would be defeated if they become tainted with pest control chemicals.
As a licensed pesticide applicator in the State Of Illinois I have access to a wide range of pesticides. Part of our training covers Integrated Pest Management or IPM for short. There are several steps involved and I will outline them here.
First is scouting for pest damage and then identifying the pest. There is a certain amount of damage that can be tolerated by plants and will do no permanent harm or reduce yield of crops. If the infestation warrants treatment than the best solution is the one least harmful to the environment . Here is the preferred methods.
1. Use the mechanical/physical pest control process.
This may be accomplished through picking pests 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 strap like foliage.
2. Apply biological pest control.
Encouraging predatory insects such as green lacewings, ladybugs, and dragonflies to feed on aphids and other pests that attack your plants. You can do this by placing a shallow bowl of water in the garden. Dragonflies especially will hover around water. Bacterial insecticides such as B. thuringiensis could also be used against caterpillars.
3. Choose pest and disease resistant plants.
We new plantings are being done try to find varieties that are resistant to insects and diseases
4. Only as a last resort should you 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 pantry. If chemical sprays are really necessary, try and find the least-toxic. These include insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, dehydrating dusts, etc.
5. Consider the use of safer pest control substitutes.
Recipes for alternative pest control can be found at local agriculture extension offices or online .Here are a couple to start with:
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 Cockroaches – Dusts of boric acid can be applied to cracks or entry points of these insects. Bay leaves on pantry shelves could also help in warding off these critters.
It is very important is to make sure that the chemicals you use are made specifically for the pests you are targeting. Always try to use the least hazardous methods first in general it will be able to handle most of your pest problems