GREEN
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Organic Gardening Pest Control

From Associated Content, by Becca Badgett

Those organic vegetables, fruits and flowers can be grown without the use of chemicals. All you need are the right insects to visit your garden.

Organic gardening cannot be truly accomplished without understanding how to avoid chemicals in the mix of soil, seed and nutrients. The technique of controlling pests organically starts with the soil.

Your future garden bed is teeming with microorganisms. This ecosystem allows you to work with nature for the optimum crop production. Build on this advantage by incorporating well-composted organic material into the soil. Vermicomposting is gaining in popularity and is also an effective means of aiding the planet. The production of worm castings includes feeding your shredded junk mail to your worm farm. Worm castings may be purchased if you are not up to starting your own farm.

In the garden, you may see beetles, bugs and flies, but do you know if they will be detrimental once your crop is planted? Many of the insects and organisms there are beneficial insects, those that prey on damaging insects and eventually destroy them. It is easier to attract the beneficials if they have a smorgasbord waiting. Learn to identify the good from the bad.

One theory of organic pest control in the garden relies on an invasion of the crop by those who will destroy it by munching on leaves, sucking on stems, and stunting or stopping growth. Once their residence is established, the predators who annihilate them will follow. Hoverflies, ladybugs, lacewings and parasitic wasps will crawl, swoop and sneak into the garden, awaiting their prey.

Should the damaging insects appear first, much of their damage can be eliminated with insecticidal soap, without harming the beneficials. Botanical herbicides and pesticides made from natural ingredients are also available to assist with the health of your plantings. Some pests can be picked off by hand.

Beneficials in various stages of life can be predators of those detrimental to the garden. Some flowering plants are useful for attracting beneficial insects to your garden, as they provide food sources for different stages of the insects' development. Marigolds, sunflowers, lavender and common yarrow are only a few of these helpful blossoms. The herbs chamomile, dill and mint attract good insects and are a tasty addition to your organic garden. They encourage the useful insects to remain once they have eliminated the pest problem.

Be sure to provide water near the garden for your beneficials and their helpers, the birds and bees.

Sources:

www.gardeningzone.com/catalog/images/ladybug%20Info%20sheet_web.pdf

www.organic-gardening.net/articles/dealing-with-garden-pests.php

http://homepage.mac.com/cityfarmer/PhotoAlbum23.html

www.coopext.colostate.edu/4dmg/PHC/benefici.htm