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Organic Pest Control Tips
June 3, 2004 8:11 AM   Subscribe

I've just planted my summer garden. Anyone have any organic pest control tips? I'm thinking more insects as I have pretty much secured the garden from entrance by bunnies/deer and other critters.

If it helps, I've planted tomatoes, beans, cabbage, eggplant, squashes, cantaloupe, peppers, cucumbers, basil, parsley and chives.
posted by archimago to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
What kind of insects are you having trouble with?

Slugs always become a problem for me at some point during the summer. There are two things I have learned: Slugs have tender bellies and they really like beer.

Tender bellies: Save eggshells, dry them a bit, crunch them up and spread them liberally around the plants.

Beer: Slugs love beer, but slugs can't swim. If you can bury a plastic cup so the rim of the cup is at about soil level, and fill it with beer, they will try to drink it, fall in and drown.

Then, of course, there's what I learned as a child: Salt melts slugs. That grosses me out though.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:23 AM on June 3, 2004


I'd like to piggyback on archimago's question and ask if there's anything organic I can do about the invisible pests which have been eating my coleus. The cleanly eaten leaves are not indicative of mealybugs, aphids, spider mites or whiteflies, but I do see a fruitfly-like insect occasionally flying around the pot.
posted by brownpau at 8:26 AM on June 3, 2004


Do you know what type of pests you will be dealing with? You can check with your county extension office. I use insecticidal soap for aphids. I hand pick beetles, cutworms, and caterpillars. I use iron phosphate for slugs and snails. I think technically it isn't organic(by the very strict Oregon Tilth definition) because makers haven't disclosed all the inactive ingredients(the bait.) But it works great and is safe for pets, birds, other creatures in the garden. I use sulfur spray for mildew and had great success mixing sulfur in the soil where I planted radish/turnips(for cabbage root maggots) and carrots(carrots fly maggot) and didn't have any maggots eating holes in my veggies. You can also use tanglefoot pest barrier smeared on something bright yellow for very cheap traps for disease causing flies and for white flies. If you have an earwig infestation, you can lay down damp newspaper overnight, go out the next day and squish them under the paper. Also there is evidence that spraying and aspirin/water solution on plants stimulates their own defenses against disease. I first read about it in Avant Gardener--here is reference to it(scroll to page 6.)
posted by lobakgo at 8:44 AM on June 3, 2004 [1 favorite]


An excellent way to keep beetles and aphids away: pick some off of your plants, and crush them in a blender with some water. Let the delightful brew ferment for a couple of days, and then mist some on your plants. You won't notice the odor, but the bugs are completely appalled by it, as well they should be. Note - this is certainly not humane, but it is definitely organic.
posted by iconomy at 8:49 AM on June 3, 2004


But what would you do with the blender afterwards?

You can have some of my geckos if you'd like.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 8:59 AM on June 3, 2004


We've had success with neem oil -- seems to control aphids, and it doesn't harm beneficial insects. But we're seeing lots of pencil-point-sized holes in our eggplant leaves. I don't remeber seeing them last year; any idea what this is, and how to get rid of 'em?

For critters, we sprinkle cayenne pepper around the perimeter of the garden, and use a garlic/habanero infusion mist. Works wonders, but wear a mask while spraying!
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:07 AM on June 3, 2004


I don't have the problems yet. I'm trying to be proactive in planting things that will repel. I've heard that marigolds and wormwood are good natural repellents, and some veggies, like tomatoes and asparagus, planted together fend off the insects from each other. I've also read that pansies are good for protecting cucumbers, mint is good for repelling mice, and petunias are a good all purpose one.

I will definitely try the beer slug trap, and someone else told me that crushing up the offenders and making a spray out of their bodies will keep more away. Great tips gang!!
posted by archimago at 9:19 AM on June 3, 2004


But what would you do with the blender afterwards?

I don't know about you, but at my house we fight over who gets to lick it clean.
posted by iconomy at 9:34 AM on June 3, 2004


My garden has turned into a half-acre organic market farm. I do a number of things for bug control, but most of them (such as keeping pastured chickens, extensive crop rotation, and wide plant spacing) wouldn't scale down to a normal garden. I can recommend a visit to Garden's Alive for very good organic pest control and fertilizer solutions. I've got some of there stuff on hand in case the cabbage worms and squash bugs get out of hand.
posted by ewagoner at 11:29 AM on June 3, 2004


Ack. "... their stuff ... ". How embarrassing.
posted by ewagoner at 11:31 AM on June 3, 2004


I'll second the cayenne pepper. It chased off the first exploratory excursion of ants into my place quickly and efficently this year.
posted by Shane at 12:50 PM on June 3, 2004


I found the answer to my own question; it might help answer the AxMe question, as well.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:19 PM on June 3, 2004


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