By Christine Wied
You have been working since spring on that wonderful garden, feeding it with compost and other natural fertilizers. Just as the young tender plants are coming up or your bounty is ready for harvesting, you find you are sharing it with slugs and other creatures of the gardens. Although tempting to get out the heavy-duty insecticides, give non-chemical pest management a try. Many chemical pesticides not only kill the target bugs but also the beneficial ones. Children eating pesticide-laden food tend to absorb more pesticides relative to body weight and are less likely to be able to clear it from their system because their organs are still developing. Pesticides can also be dangerous to pets and wildlife. If there is runoff from your garden, the chemicals are carried down the stormdrain where they can do damage in local waterways.
Physical removal of pests is effective but hunting slugs at night with a flashlight and knitting needle may not be your idea of a good time. Natural oil and soap solutions or pheromone traps may be better alternatives. Here are a couple of recommendations I found in my research.
Oil Spray for Insect Control
- Mix 1 tablespoon of mild dishwashing liquid or baby shampoo with 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in a quart of water;
- Spray every 5 to 7 days as needed;
- Water plants the day before you spray;
- Do not use on plants with hairy leaves or those with a thin waxy covering on the leaves or orchids;
- For fungus control add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to the above mixture; and
- Spray both sides of the leaves thoroughly at the first sign of disease.
Insect Repellent for Vegetables
- Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid hand soap with ¼ teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper, onion powder and garlic powder in a spray bottle and fill with water; and
- Spray on infected plants.
- Pour beer into a smooth-walled container with a rim; and
- Place at least a ½ inch above ground level to keep from drowning beneficial bugs, too.
Contact: Christine Wied, email@example.com