Create conditions that make pest problems minimal by welcoming a complex biological community in your organic garden. Encouraging the predators that catch and eat the pests is a good plan. Encourage beneficial insects like, Butterflies, Bees, Ladybugs, Lacewings, and Praying Mantis, to come to your garden by planting wild flowers, native plants, and herbs. Ladybugs and Praying Mantises eat huge numbers of aphids that could destroy your harvest.
Lizards, frogs, and toads will eat ants and cockroaches. Bats consume massive numbers of mosquitoes. Slugs and snails can be handpicked and removed. Perhaps the best repellent for gophers, rats, and mice is installing wire mesh 6mm x 6mm under and around your raised bed. Or build an owl house to help control rodents naturally.
Your family dog or cat can be a deterrent for critters. Installing motion sensor lights to frighten away those nocturnal critters can be effective. Install row covers and bird netting to create barriers to make it difficult for the pests to reach the plants. Create a pond to bring in lots of garden helpers, like dragonflies, frogs, and toads.
Do not use poison! No poison is safe. Rodents eat the poison and then are eaten by wildlife predators, such as owls, hawks, mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes who are indirectly poisoned. Roaming cats and dogs can digest the poison directly. Use live traps with peanut butter instead of an exterminator. Beneficial insects are killed by pesticides along with the bad bugs, who have evolved into super-bugs after building immunity to the chemicals.
Planting pest-repellent plants can help reduce many unwanted visitors. Basil repels flies and mosquitoes. Lavender repels fleas, beetles, and moths. The strong scent of peppermint, eucalyptus, and citrus essential oils can deter a variety of pests. Marigolds are toxic to root nematodes and their smell repels other pests. Nasturtiums trap aphids and attract bees and hummingbirds. The smell of onions and garlic helps keeps pests and critters away. Artemisia repels insects and even small animals.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is made of the silica-rich, fossilized skeletons of minute aquatic organisms that settle in sediment, creating silica deposits. This fine powdered dust dries out insects by absorbing oils from their exoskeletons and must be kept dry. When soft bodied pests crawl across DE, the abrasive powder disturbs the waxy outer layer of aphids, ants, and slugs. However, it can also harm beneficial insects.
Companion planting cultivates foods that grow well together and nourish each other’s roots, enhancing their flavors, nutrients, and resilience to pests and diseases. Interplanting different vegetable crops with flowers and herbs confuse and repel pests. Crop rotation helps to prevent soil depletion and the persistence of pests and diseases specific to certain plants. Every season plant a different plant family in your garden beds.
Instead of using harmful chemicals that poison the food, the insects, and the wildlife, practice pest prevention, observation, and good sanitation and create a balanced ecosystem.