The Organic Gardeners Best Defence Against Pests
Growing your own produce (fruit, herbs and vegetables) is not just about planting and harvesting, it's also about being able to take action against pests.
Cabbage caterpillars or worms can eat seedlings and young plants overnight.
I have been 'growing my own' since the beginning of this year and have managed to harvest a decent crop considering that this is my first year being a home farmer and all the learning that comes with it. Growing your own produce such as fruit, herbs and vegetables is not just about planting and harvesting your own, but it's also about learning more about growing seasons, plant performance and how to deal with the endless attack by pests and diseases. If you aren't able to protect your crops against pests, you might as well give up now before they eat everything!
This post is about providing you with helpful information that I have discovered in the past year. Things such as what pests are a constant pest and diseases to look out for. I am also touching on my personal experience growing certain fruit and vegetables so that you can avoid the mistakes and learn from my experiences.
The image at the top of this page shows a young brussel sprout plant ravaged by waxy aphids and cabbage caterpillar / worm. The image above is a young plant free from pests with organic pest control methods
WHAT PESTS TO WATCH OUT FOR
I have watched a ton of videos and read endless articles on the various pests and diseases that can affect growing your own, but I still wasn't prepared for the onslaught that came my way. It's almost as though the bugs wait for you to leave the garden before they attack and you only find out the next morning when they have totally decimated everything you planted. And that's no joke. In a single night, cabbage caterpillars ate quite a few plants and it was only the next morning that I awoke to find only a few tattered leaf remains and stems behind.
An infestation of waxy aphids can occur overnight They can be found clustered in colonies on leaves, around the central bud or head and leaf axis. These pests are covered with a waxy secretion that makes them difficult to get rid of.
- Be prepared for any attack
The only way to prevent sneak attack by pests and diseases is to always be on the lookout and have the right products at hand to deal with whatever might come your way. There are 2 organic pesticides that I guarantee will work - no matter what.
- • Neem oil
- You are going to be using a lot of this one, so buy a 5 litre container and that should last a while. I have bought directly from Calrol and from Takealot.
- Neem oil is an organic pesticide that works against a variety of pests including, waxy aphids, mealy bug, cabbage worm or caterpillar and a host of other annoying pests. It is harmless to other wildlife and insects, including worms, bees and butterflies and acts by retarding the growth cycle of pests. As soon as you see any sign of pests on your seedlings or young plants, spray directly onto these areas. In as short as a single day you will see the pests disappear.
- I must be honest and say that Neem oil wasn't one hundred per cent effective against cabbage caterpillar, but more on this below.
- • Garlic spray
- Another very effective organic pesticide is garlic - the more concentrated the better. I have made up my own pesticide sprays by combining garlic oil with a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and water. The garlic I use to make my spray is that you can buy in any supermarket in tubs. It is already chopped and ready for use, all you have to do is pour the oil only into a 1 litre spray bottle (about 3 dessert spoons), add a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and fill with water. Shake well and then apply to plants.
- Garlic spray coats the leaves with a sticky residue that pests don't like and try to avoid. While Neem oil didn't get rid of cabbage caterpillars, garlic spray did. Having said that, it is also important to check plants morning and night and manually remove any remaining caterpillars.
- Use garlic spray where snails or caterpillars make an appearance such as cabbage and lettuce. I have sprayed the plants once a week and they have remained pest-free until harvesting time.
Cabbage worm or caterpillar can quickly consume seedlings or young plants.
GROW HEALTHY FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Even though my fruit and vegetable garden hasn't been established for very long, I am already harvesting bell peppers, green beans, beetroot, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, onions and in the near future will be able to add potatoes and brussel sprouts to the list.
Growing healthy produce is easy if you have the proper - organic - pest control methods at hand to deal with any infestation.