5 tips for organic pest control for vegetable gardens because as someone who has been gardening almost my whole life, I can tell you that no matter where you garden you’ll come up against some type of disease or pest. Natural and organic options aren't as widely known among home gardeners and sometimes people get frustrated because they feel like they don't work as well.
First off, it’s important to take the proper steps in prevention to make sure your plants are healthy enough to withstand whatever may come. When I was growing up we didn’t have a ton of money to invest in pest control, so we had to be very vigilant about learning what types of pests were common in our areas and when they would most likely hit, so that when we did invest in pest control we knew exactly what we were dealing with.
Listen in below to the full podcast, Episode #203 5 Tips for Organic Pest Control for Vegetable Gardens of the Pioneering Today Podcast, where we don’t just inspire you, but give you the clear steps to create the homegrown garden, pantry, kitchen and life you want for your family and homestead.
5 Tips for Organic Pest Control for Vegetable Gardens
The first line of defense in dealing with pests is having really healthy plants. This goes back to soil health. Healthy plants have a solid foundation in weathering any type of disease or insect problems
Proper Identification of Pests
To know what preventative measures you need to take when it comes to pests in your vegetable garden. You must know what type of pests are in your garden so that you can use the correct organic treatment.
It’s hard to find the culprit in action as they usually come out in the early mornings when it is still dark out. If you’re not able to catch them red-handed, there are a couple of ways you can look for clues to figure out what type of pest is in your garden.
- The first place you want to check is under the leaves for any eggs. If you do find any eggs, it is important to get them off and dispose of them properly before they hatch. This will prevent you from having more pests in the area. If eggs are found many people use duct tape to take off any eggs of the leaves or you can clip the leaves if you do find eggs on some of the leaves. Looking and finding any eggs will also help you identify what is harming your plants.
- Look at and around the lower leaves as these are the easiest for many pests to get to. (ie. slugs)
There are two ways that people typically handle application use:
- Preventative – Pre-treating the plant-based on past experience or what other gardeners in your area tell you.
- Application use – Treating the plant when you find evidence of damage or disturbance.
I personally do application use as I do not put any type of pest control on any plants until I see evidence of damage.
The two most common form of pest control are:
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
This is a fine powder. Be cautious as not to get this power in your eyes or inhale it, so don’t use it on a windy day. The powder works by cutting the skin or exoskeleton of any pests that it comes in contact with. For better results, be sure to put the powder on the soil around the plant, the base, and leaves.
Some drawbacks of this powder are that it cannot be used when it’s wet outside, so be sure only to use it during dry periods. Secondly, do not use it on the blossoms, because it can hurt the honeybees. Lastly, the best practice is to put the powder on your plants in the evening as bees come out in the early morning.
This is the food grade diatomaceous earth I use in the garden and around the home.
Organic Neem Oil
Neem Oil is an all-purpose oil and one of the best natural insecticide for plants there is. It can be used for many different things and can be used throughout the growing season. When you’re using Neem Oil, you want to make sure that you purchase the certified organic option. Many sprays that you can buy in garden centers or online say they use Neem Oil and that it is “natural,” but it uses other synthetic ingredients. The certified organic Neem Oil is a little more expensive, but it is well worth the price, especially when used on your vegetables. Be sure that you don’t use the oil on a windy day, so it doesn’t get in your eyes or inhaled. You also don’t want to use the oil when it is wet or rain in the forecast as it’ll wash away.
This is the Neem Oil I use that is straight cold pressed neem oil only (note: this is a concentrate so it will last you a long time and can also be used on fruit trees!)
I also have this sprayer to use when applying the neem oil to plants and trees.
Many people use Neem Oil as a preventative measure when they know a particular pest hit their garden during a specific time of year. It’s important to remember that when treating any plant for pests or disease, you’re going to use multiple treatments to be successful.
Continued Application for successful organic pest control
An area many people make a mistake in with using the organic pest control is not using it long enough. Just one application isn't going to get rid of the pests. Depending on the pest (going back to identification) you usually need to apply on a weekly or bi-weekly basis throughout the season.
These means being diligent and applying the spray or powder and also manually removing any eggs or live creatures you see. Truthfully the only way I can keep slugs down is to go out and manually pick them off and dispose of them.
I hope that you found this post helpful. As you can see, both these organic options are great to prevent and treat pests because you can safely use them on your edible plants and vegetables. If you are want to learn more about organic gardening sign up for my Organic Gardening Workshop! This is a workshop where I’m giving tons of tips, and you do not want to miss it!
For more organic gardening tips, check out the following posts:
- 10 Things Most Organic Gardeners Forget About
- What is Organic Gardening and How to Start an Organic Garden at Home
- 13 Basic Steps to Starting a Vegetable Garden
- How to Create a Gardening Plan for More Harvest and Less Stress
- 8 Common Mistakes Made by New Gardeners
- Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for a Healthier Garden
- How to Get Rid of Bugs on Plants Naturally Tips that Actually Work
- Cabbage Moth and Slug Control with Organic Gardening Methods