Sunday, August 3, 2008

Three Natural Ways to Reduce Garden Pests

If you are planting an organic garden, try natural approaches to pest control using nontoxic means:

  1. Pyrethrum. This mixture of insecticidal compounds found in some species of African chrysanthemums controls aphids, whiteflies, stinkbugs and mites. You should be able to find pyrethrum products in your local garden center. (Some will say they contain "pyrethrins.") Check labels carefully to make sure you choose the product intended for the crops you're growing or the pests you're trying to eliminate.
  2. Neem. From the seeds and leaves of the Neem tree, Azadirachta indica, which is native to India, the compounds neem contains (such as azadirachtin) act as insect repellents. Neem is non-toxic to animals and humans and beneficial to bees. Although neem products are somewhat more expensive than most synthetic pesticides, they are worth it for both personal and environmental health.
  3. Insects. Consider adding beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantis to your garden (both are commonly sold at garden centers).

Also ask your local garden shop about soap solutions you can spray on plants to kill insects, and about pheromone traps (useful against some insects, including Japanese beetles). You can always pick or brush insects off manually or wash them off with forceful streams of water.

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