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Organic Pest Control

Organic gardening implements many different methods to achieve a healthy garden without the use of synthetic chemical insecticides, herbicides and fertilisers. 

While weeding and fertilising offer ample organic solutions, many people still find themselves reaching for chemical sprays when it comes to controlling pests – but we’ll help you to find a different approach to organic pest control in your garden. 

Prevention is always better than a cure, and the best way to prevent pest problems is to have a diverse garden full of many different types of plants. 

This plant diversity not only creates an interesting garden, it prevents the build up of any one particular type of pest. The different plants also help each other through companion planting and attracting beneficial insects into your garden to keep everything in harmony. 

Broad spectrum sprays kill all insects, not just the unwanted guests; and while they may not be desirable in your garden, they can be a food source for other beneficial insects and local wildlife like ladybirds, birds, lizards and frogs. 

It’s also important to note that many beneficial bugs closely resemble the bugs they are preying on, so it’s highly recommended you take a very close look before reaching for any sprays! 

There are a number of plants that can be considered a must for every garden for their ability to attract the important beneficial insects that will help to control many of the bugs that are damaging your plants. Some of these include: yarrow, dandelion, fennel, marigolds, calendulas, sunflowers, tansy, mints, hyssop, chervil, chamomile, cosmos, carrot and parsnip flowers, sage, basil and borage. 

Healthy plants are less susceptible to attack than stressed or sick plants. Keep them healthy by improving the soil and applying regular applications of seaweed solutions and organic fertilisers. 

Remove any diseased or damaged wood and water as required to keep plants healthy and vigorous.

Control Methods

Companion Planting

This is a huge subject that can only be touched on here. Companion planting works in a number of different ways; some plants help each other grow and be more vigorous, healthy and pest resistant, others hide plants or mask the smell of target plants helping to protect them from insects. Some act as sacrificial crops by attracting a particular pest away from the target plant, while others repel undesirable insects. 

Some plants that have been found to be useful in repelling unwanted insects include: catmint, chives, coriander, feverfew, lavender, nasturtiums, and wormwoods. 

 

Attracting Good Bugs

To have a healthy garden that will be mainly pest-free you need to encourage beneficial insects. These are your insect friends – they help to control many pest problems by preying on pesky insects such as aphids, caterpillars, snails, scales and other undesirables. 

Beneficial insects serve two purposes; the adults feed on pollen and nectar thus helping to pollinate your flowers, while the juveniles prey on insects. For example, the larvae of a hoverfly will eat over 1200 aphids in its life cycle. To maximise the effects of beneficial insects, it’s best to have flowers from spring through to autumn to provide a permanent habit, as well as a place for them to call home such as an insect hotel. 

Some more common beneficial insects are: bees, hoverflies, ladybirds, lacewings, certain wasps and flies. 

Plants that attract these insects include: yarrow, dandelion, fennel, marigolds, calendulas, sunflowers, tansy, mints, hyssop, chamomile, chervil, cosmos, carrot and parsnip flowers, sage, basil and borage. 

Note: Birds, lizards, and frogs are also excellent pest-eaters. attract them by having water, shrubs and hidey-holes. 

 

Barriers

You can use physical barriers to stop/prevent pests from attacking your plants. The most common barrier method is to place nets over your crops or fruit trees to stop birds helping themselves! 

Other examples are tying a slippery plastic sheet or aluminium foil around tree trunks to stop possums, sticky bands or grease bands to stop ants and weevils, copper tape for snails, fences to keep out rabbits and wallabies, or special bags over fruit to stop fruit fly.

Pests & Solutions

Unfortunately, sometimes it becomes necessary to take matters into your own hands and attack the problem directly. It is best to try a non-toxic method first and work up to harsher methods if necessary. 

Always be careful when spraying. Even though you may be using an organic or natural spray, it can still be toxic. Always wear gloves and cover your skin as much as possible. Spraying is best done in the early morning or late evening. Never spray in windy weather. 

 

Pests are commonly divided into two main types: 

Chewing pests 

These insects all feed on plants by chewing the foliage, stems and roots of susceptible plants. 

Example: Apple codling moth, cabbage white moth and butterfly, caterpillars, earwigs and slaters, pear and cherry slugs, snails and slugs. 

General control: Surface applications of natural sprays are readily ingested by pests without damaging crops, while deterrent sprays of neem and organic traps are successful at reducing overall pest numbers. 

 

Sap suckers

These insects have piercing, sucking mouthparts that feed on plants by sucking sap from the foliage or stems causing distorted growth, especially on young, tender growth. Most produce honeydew, a sticky substance which attracts ants and leads to sooty mould and transmits viruses. 

Example: Aphids, green veg bug, mealy bug, red spider mite, scale and white fly. 

General control: Spray plants with an organic pest oil, neem oil or a natural soap spray, or attract predatory insects to your garden. If ants are active, place a band of horticultural glue around the trunk to minimise ant activity. 

Note: Treating pests is not a one solution fits all, but understanding how they attack your plants will help you to find the right treatment.

Crop Protection

Protect your crops against unwanted pests and vermin. From vegetable garden netting through to organic treatments, decoys, devices that emit an ultrasonic noise and light, we've got your crop protection needs sorted.

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Homemade Spray Recipes

Always make sure any utensils used to make sprays are strictly kept exclusively for this use and not mixed with kitchen utensils!

White Oil –

¼ cup ‘eco-friendly’ dishwashing liquid mixed with 1 cup of vegetable oil. Mix very well. Stores for 3 months. When required, dilute 1 dessert spoon into 500ml of water and spray.

Chilli/Garlic Spray –

Cover 3 chillies, 1 onion, and ½ bulb of garlic with warm, soapy water. Leave overnight, strain, then dilute 2 dessert spoons into 500ml of water and spray. For extra power, dilute with feverfew/pyrethrum tea or rhubarb spray instead.

Pyrethrum Tea –

Steep ½ cup dried feverfew or pyrethrum flowers in 1L boiling water, strain and cool.

Rhubarb Spray –

Boil 250g rhubarb leaves in 1L of water for ½ an hour. When cool, add some soap to help it ‘stick’. Soap Spray – 2 tsp washing up liquid to 1L water.

Bee Friendly Planting Chart

There are many reasons to lay out the welcome mat for bees in your garden and it really is as easy as offering food, shelter and water throughout the year.

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