It’s winter, so you’re planning out your spring garden. And this time you want to go organic. You know you’ll have to learn to live with the odd nibbled leaf, but there are certain times when the ‘taxes’ taken by the wildlife that shares your garden are just too high. Just know that you don’t have to resort to expensive, polluting and unhealthy pesticides and pellets in order to get your pest problems under control. With a little effort and imagination, you can garden organically and still get a great yield. Here are a few of the tricks of the trade:
Netting and Shielding:
One of the easiest measures you can take against larger pests is simply to net or shield your crops. You may wish to net brassicas against butterflies and birds and fruit against birds and small mammals like rabbits, hares, mice or shrews. You can also, for example, use finer mesh nets to protect carrots from carrot flies if they are a problem where you live. Fine mesh can be sued to protect plants wherever one particular crop might be particularly badly affected by pests.
When planning an organic garden, it is best to avoid large areas of one plant, which are more susceptible to disease and pests. Instead, you should plant your flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs in groups of compatible plants that might even help one another. Companion planting is an inexact science but many gardeners do see the benefits of planting some plants alongside others. Some aid with nutrient collection, others repel pests or distract them away from more valuable specimens while still others help in other, less well documented and less studied ways.
When planning a vegetable garden you should consider crop rotation in your plans because if you decide to grow some crops in the same locations year after year, they can be far more likely to succumb to pests and diseases. Crop rotation can not only reduce pest problems, it can also help you to maintain the fertility and usefulness of your soil.
Tricks and Traps:
Organic gardeners have a number of tricks and traps up their sleeves to deal with slugs, snails and other garden pests. Beer traps and other enticements can allow you to get rid of an over-abundance of slugs and snails but really, it is better to try to maintain a healthy ecosystem in your back yard so no one element gets out of proportion in the first place.
Nematode and Predator Controls:
Slugs and snails are a common problem for many gardeners around the world. If you have a serious problem then introducing nematodes into your garden could be a good if expensive option. But rather than resorting to such measures, the first step should simply be to encourage a number of natural predators into your yard. There are some birds that will eat slugs and snails (if you keep chickens or ducks these will pick off quite a few for you) and aquatic life like frogs will also give you a helping hand with pests. Got a problem with aphids? All you have to do is attract a range of predatory insects like ladybugs and other things that will make a meal of the little flies. Good planting schemes will go a long way towards helping you with that.