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Organic Pest and Disease Controls

Organic Solutions for a Safer Garden

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Gardening organically doesn't mean you have to surrender your garden to pests and diseases. There are many organic pesticide products and biological controls that will help you ward off everything from aphids to weeds. Organic gardening just requires that you use some common sense:

  1. Identify the problem.

  2. Decide if the problem is big enough to warrant a pesticide.

  3. Start with the least toxic control and move up to bigger guns only if needed.

  4. Keep a close watch on your garden so small problems don't get out of control.

  5. Accept a little imperfection.

Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Once you get your gardening moving in an organic direction, it is actually easier to maintain than a garden dependent on synthetic chemicals and amendments. You soil will become healthier, which will make your plants grow healthier - and you'll have less problems to contend with in the long run.

To help get you started, here are some organic and biological controls and techniques for when you've reached #2, above, and you've decided the problem warrants a pesticide.

Insect Control

Companion Planting - Pairing Plants to Control the Insect Balance in Your Garden
Companion planting is an age old gardening technique of pairing two or more plants to gain some type of benefit,: vigorous growth, higher yield, repelling pests or attracting predators of common pests. Some companion plantings work, others disappoint. But the idea of strength in diversity is never truer than in the garden and that’s what companion planting provides. Here are some tips for attracting beneficial insects and for companion planting with herbs to repel insect pests.

Profiles of Some Common Organic Pesticides
Profiles of the most commonly used organic garden pesticides, including insecticidal soap and oils and neem.

What is Horticultural Oil?
Horticultural oil is an effective and ecologically friendly way to handle many garden insect pests and even some diseases. Most hort oils are some type of mineral oil, a refined petroleum product. The oil is usually combined with some type of emulsifying agent so that it can be mixed with water and used as a spray. You may see it listed as dormant, summer, all-season or even superior oil. Here’s what the difference is.

Pest Control in the Vegetable Garden Using Worm Compost
Another organic control has been added to the vegetable gardener’s arsenal with new studies that show adding worm compost can cut down on damage by sucking and chewing insects like aphids, caterpillars and mealy bugs.

Bagworms - Let a Natural Predator Get Rid of the For You If you have bagworms in your landscape, you’ve probably been told there’s not much you can do but cut them out of the tree and destroy them. New studies show promise that planting members of the Aster family, like daisies and gazania, near and/or around the susceptible tree will attract a natural predator of bagworm.

Photo Gallery of Insect Pests & Plant Diseases
These photos illustrate some insect pests and diseases you may encounter in your garden. These types of problems are rarely fatal, but monitoring your garden regularly will make you aware of a problem early enough to prevent major damage.

Disease Control

Profiles of Some Common Organic Pesticides
Profiles of the most commonly used organic garden pesticides, including insecticidal soap and oils and neem.

Baking Soda Recipe for Controlling Powdery Mildew
Baking soda makes an inexpensive control for powdery mildew on plants. The baking soda fungicide is mostly effective as a preventative, offering only minimal benefits after your plants have become infected. Weekly spraying of susceptible plants during humid or damp weather can greatly reduce the incidence of powdery mildew in your garden.

Cornmeal as a Fungicidal
Researchers at Texs A&M have discovered that cornmeal has powerful fungicidal properties and is effective on all kinds of landscape fungus problems, from turf grass to black spot on roses. Here’s how to apply cornmeal to treat fungus problems in your garden.

Plant Nutrient Deficiencies Sometimes the problem isn't really a disease at all. Yellowing plants, mottled leaves, wilting... these can all be signs that your plants aren't getting all the nutrients they need. Here are some tips for identifying plant nutrient deficiencies.

Messenger - A New Gardening Tool Against Plant Diseases
The plant health activator, Messenger, is neither a pesticide nor a fertilizer, although it has many advantages of both. Messenger fools a plant into thinking it is being attacked by a fungus, triggering the plant's defense mechanisms. It is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. Messenger shows great promise in helping gardeners to grow better plants and in cutting down on the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

Photo Gallery of Insect Pests & Plant Diseases
These photos illustrate some insect pests and diseases you may encounter in your garden. These types of problems are rarely fatal, but monitoring your garden regularly will make you aware of a problem early enough to prevent major damage.

A Good Insect - Learn to Recognize Lady Beetle (Ladybug) Nymphs
Everyone recognizes lady beetles and welcomes them into their gardens. Unfortunately baby lady beetles look nothing like they do as adults. In fact, their appearance can be quite alarming and tempt you to reach for the spray can. Don’t do it.

Weed Control

Vinegar (Acetic Acid) as a Herbicide Household vinegar and other concentrations of acetic acid are effective weed killers. Using vinegar as a weed control is both cost effective and an organic, environmentally safe way to mange unwanted weeds in your yard and garden. Here are some tips for getting the best control when using vinegar or acetic acid as an herbicide.

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