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ALTERNATIVES TO PESTICIDES

Having committed to becoming a Natural Gardener, the use of even home-made natural pesticides can often feel like a failure.  It is a sign that the garden has become unbalanced.  So in practical terms, what are the alternatives to spraying pesticides?  How can we begin to manage pests and disease in other ways?  Fortunately there are many different natural methods that we can apply.

Microorganisms

Simply employing the services of Microorganisms (as described on this website) will enhance your plants ability to absorb nutrients and thus strengthen it from attack by disease and pests.  Spraying Microorganisms onto the leaves of plants is also said to create a “Bio-Film” which has a deterrent value.  Put simply the leaves will taste less appealing to insects and disease will find it harder to thrive.  The good thing about this is that the microorganisms have no impact on predatory or pollinating insects.

Predatory Insects & Animals

Encouraging predatory insects and animals is also a great idea and this is explored further in the Habitat page of this website.

 

ALTERNATIVES TO PESTICIDES

Companion Planting

Companion Planting can help manage pests in both direct and indirect ways.  For example the smell of Marigolds is said to deter aphids, but indirectly they also provide habitat for Predatory Insects.  Some plants, like beans, will fix nitrogen in the soil and thus provide fertiliser to strengthen other plants against attacks.  Sunflowers and Cucumbers are said to be a match made in heaven.  And the “Three Sisters” of Corn, Squash and Beans from ancient American farmers is a classic example of companion Planting.  There are options for most pest challenges available online and they are fun to experiment with and often quite interesting and beautiful to look at. 

Inter-Cropping

A related concept is that of Inter-Cropping in which a variety of crops are planted close together.  This increases yields but also makes it more difficult for pests and disease to spread through the same plant species. 


Crop Rotation

Some plant diseases exist within the soil and so rotating crops around your vegetable patch is often recommended.  This technique can also help to ensure that the soil is not depleted of the nutrients required by a particular crop and thus leads to healthier plants.

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ALTERNATIVES TO PESTICIDES

Barriers, Attractants and Decoys

Barriers to prevent pests from reaching plants come in many forms.  Greenhouses and eco-rated netting are two examples of physical barriers.  Copper Tape is used as a Barrier to stop Slugs and Snails and is certainly more effective than the use of Crushed Eggshells which pose little deterrent. 


Attractants such as Fluorescent Light and Aromatics are commonly used in Asian Natural Farming to trap undesirable insects.  Hanging a container with some Rice Wine and a few drops of Fruity Bloom or Luscious Leaf Fertiliser (see Fertiliser pages) will attract and trap airborne insect pests.  Drop-traps using Beer as an attractant are effective in controlling slugs and snails.  Similarly Soy Sauce and Linseed Oil drop-traps are all useful in attracting earwigs. 


Decoys, such as male Cabbage White Butterflies, may deter females from landing to lay their eggs, and decoy templates are available through the Australian Butterfly Conservation.