Organic and natural methods are very popular with home gardeners who want to decrease their dependence on chemicals in the garden.
Going organic can be a satisfying and fulfilling way to garden – but it’s not without its own unique challenges. Today we’re taking a closer look at natural pesticides and running through what you need to know if you want to use them in your own garden.
What are organic pesticides?
A common misconception when it comes to going organic is that no pesticides are used, but this simply isn’t true. For farmers and gardeners, pesticides are an important part of the growing process and help protect and maintain crops throughout the year. The key difference between organic pesticides versus traditional chemical pesticides is that organic pesticides use chemicals that occur naturally instead of ones that are synthetically man-made. People who garden organically start from the soil-up, focusing first on growing healthy plants by improving the soil with organic material such as well-rotted manure or home-made garden compost and ‘traditional’ fertilisers such as bone meal, or fish blood and bone.
The benefits of going organic and using natural pesticides
There are dozens of reasons people opt to use natural pesticides and take a more organic approach in their home gardens. First, it’s kinder to the environment; by going organic you reduce pollution and won’t introduce new chemicals into your soil, plants and ultimately your food.
Health is also a key benefit for many gardeners. There’s growing concern about how we’re exposed to the chemicals used in farming and gardening, and by going organic you can reduce exposure to things that may be harmful.
Going organic also helps you have more holistic gardening experience. There are dozens of amazing products on the market to help even the most novice gardeners grow a lush and healthy vegetable patch. But the downside to these products is you often lose the opportunity for deep connection with the land and the soil. Organic gardening and using natural pesticides means you need to have a strong understanding of your soil, the insects in your garden and how each plant in your garden is functioning. For devoted gardeners, this isn’t a chore, and in fact, for many is a key benefit.
While cost is often a key criticism of organic and natural methods, and it is true that alternative treatments can often cost more and maybe less readily available for farmers, the same is not true for home gardeners or allotment holders.
It is not necessary to spend any more on natural pesticides and organic plant food than you would on the standard synthetic alternatives and by adopting a more holistic approach will create long-term savings when your garden is healthy and strong and yielding plenty of fruit and vegetables. Time is another challenge. It takes time and energy to understand natural pesticides and organic methods and requires consistent attention throughout the year. Take the time to understand what you’ll need to do to look after your garden so you’re never caught off guard once the season begins.
How to go about starting organic gardening
If you’re ready to start using organic methods in your own garden, here are some of the key things you should consider:
- Soil – Good soil is at the very heart of a healthy garden, and this is especially important if you don’t intend to use chemicals to help you along. You can give your soil the boost it needs with products like organic compost, organic planters, enriched compost and organic blend topsoil.
- Watering – Timely watering is also critical to help your garden thrive, and you will need to pay close attention to how much the plants and vegetables in your garden need to be watered, along with changing weather conditions. Dry soils can become a breeding ground for certain weeds and plant diseases, while damp, humid conditions make plants susceptible to others.
- Alkaline, PH and nitrogen – Soils with too much nitrogen, alkaline and PH can become troublesome for your plants and lead to issues like pests and diseases. Take the time to understand what each means for your garden.
Going organic means a new approach to pest control in your garden. First, you’ll need to use a good natural pesticide to help with things like slug control to help keep pests under control. You will also need to think about how other deterrents can help you; for example, using physical barriers like mesh netting to keep insects away from vegetables, while companion planting is another great way to control pests and can aid pollination of your crops and flowers.
Common plant combinations include:
- Growing nasturtiums or marigold to deter aphids from attacking your beans, and planting alliums around carrots to ward off carrot root fly.
- Companion planting - Most companion plants are strongly scented and confuse pests looking for their host plant. Others attract beneficial insects, such as ladybirds and lacewings, which prey on aphids.
- Organic feed – Good plant and lawn food will help make your job easier and promote a healthy garden. Organic products have come a long way; you can get organic plant food that’s effective and made with completely natural ingredients as well as lawn food that’s slow release to help maintain your grass. For small infected areas, such as paths and drives, you can also use weed control to help you quickly manage any problem areas without using harsh chemicals.