Full Guide on Gardening without Pesticides

gardening without pesticides

Can You Garden without Pesticides?

The short answer is yes. There are several ways one can get rid of pests naturally without using pesticides. However, these natural solutions involve more effort, commitment as well as basic organic gardening know-how.

Note that even though compared to using pesticides, these natural methods are less efficient, they have proven effective in fighting off persistent harmful pests from your crops (source).

Harmful bugs in your crops negatively affect your gardening efforts. In most cases, home gardeners use pesticides to get rid of pests on their plants. However, pesticides can have significant adverse effects not just on the environment but also on our health.

organic gardening

Fortunately, there are natural ways of controlling termites without using dangerous chemicals. One can keep their garden pest, disease and chemical-free at the same time. In fact, statistics reveal that many people are moving towards an organic approach in growing food crops as well as flowers.

It, therefore, means that one can remove pests naturally by using eco-friendly methods. These methods are efficient, plus they’ll help you practice organic gardening which will not put our environment at risk. Keep reading this guide to learn how you can garden without pesticides.

Best Natural/Organic Pesticides/ Insecticides You Can Use

Some natural and DIY pesticides that are useful in getting rid of bugs include:

Neem Oil

Oil from neem disrupts the life cycle of insects at all stages. It also acts as an antifeedant for insects feeding on leaves or other parts of the plant. You can buy neem oil from garden shops or natural food markets. To make neem spray, mix 2 teaspoons of neem oil, 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap and 1 quart of water. Shake the mixture well before use (source).

Oil Spray

This is made from vegetable oil mixed with mild soap. It’s best for killing aphids, mites, thrips, etc. Mix 1 cup of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of soap, cover and shake thoroughly. Then when you want to spray, add 2 teaspoons of this oil spray with 1 quart of water, thoroughly shake this mixture then spray on affected surfaces of plants.

Onion and Garlic Spray

Mince one clove of garlic and one onion, medium-sized. Add one quart of water. Wait for some minutes. Then add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap.

Salt Spray

It’s best for killing spider mites. Use 2 tablespoons of Himalayan Crystal Salt and 1 gallon of warm water, mix thoroughly then spray on infected areas.

Eucalyptus Oil

Use this oil for flies, wasps or bees. Sprinkle some drops where these insects are found.

Chrysanthemum Flower Tea

Pyrethrum is a powerful substance found in these flowers that invades the insects’ nervous systems hence making them immobile. Boil 100grams of dried flowers into a liter of water for 20 minutes. Strain then allow it to cool. After, pour into your spray bottle.

Here is a video explaining organic ways to control pests:

How to Avoid Pests Naturally

As there are different pests, individuals will apply different methods to get rid of them. Here are some common insects and how you can keep them away naturally.

gardening without pesticides

1. Cutworm

This pest resembles a caterpillar only that it has a shiny head, plus it lives underground. Cutworms destroy plants by cutting seeding stems, usually at night. They mostly target young plants, that are emerging or within the soil. These worms affect crops like cabbage, beets, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc.

Removing weed from your garden before planting will help prevent this prey, as doing that destroys the larvae, hindering it from growing as there is nothing to eat. Again, when transferring plants from one area to another, gardeners should place a cardboard collar or toilet paper tubes around that new place, as it’ll help keep cutworms away.

Also, note that a cutworm is intolerant to rough surfaces. Therefore, adding eggshells or coffee grounds around your plants can help keep this prey away. Additionally, after harvesting, turn the soil debris over to kill the larvae (source).

2. Aphids

Aphids are mostly found on the underside of leaves. They feed on fruits, vegetables as well as ornamental plants. A large infestation of aphids will stop your plants from growing completely.

Getting rid of aphids involves cutting the infested leaves and watering your plants with so much water to kill them. Also, some good bugs like ladybug or lacewing feed on aphids. It’s thus wise that you encourage them to thrive on your farm.

You can do that by growing plants from the daisy family such as black-eyed Susans, white arrow, asters, etc. as they attract these bugs.

However, you can also kill aphids using a natural pesticide containing a mixture of 1tb spoon of canola with some drops dish soap in a quart of water. Use a spray bottle to spray this solution. Also, spray both the top and bottom of infested leaves to kill and discourage aphids from eating these leaves (source).

3. Cabbageworms

From its name you can tell that it feeds on cabbages as well as cabbage-related plants like cauliflower, kale, broccoli, turnips, etc. Cabbageworms leave big holes in these crops and completely contaminate your plants if they’re not removed immediately.

One way of getting rid of these worms is encouraging “good bugs” like spiders, lacewings, parasitic wasps as well as yellow jackets to thrive in your farm since they feed on these pests.

But, even with these bugs, you’ll need to throw in some effort to remove Cabbageworms from your garden. If there are huge holes in the leaves of your plants, it means that Cabbageworms are still present.

Gardeners should, therefore, start searching and handpicking these pests and throw them in soapy water, which will kill them. Also, once you’ve harvested your plants, one should till under the soil where vegetables are grown to kill the cabbageworm pupae.

4. Bean Beetle

Bean beetles attack young pods, stems as well as leaves. These pets mostly destroy bean plants like soybeans, pintos, limas, navies, etc. Since they’re most active during summer, it’ll be best if you grow beans early before this season.

That way, should these pests come, they’ll have nothing to eat. But, if they’re in your garden, you can handpick and put them in soapy water to kill them. Also, check for bright yellow eggs underside of leaves, if present, get rid of them immediately.

You should again allow ladybugs and lacewings to thrive in your garden as they feed on larvae and eggs of bean beetles. Additionally, individuals are advised to use a floating row cover which acts as a barrier from these pests.

Benefits of Gardening without Pesticides

Environment- chemical runoffs can find their way into water supplies and contaminate water. Also, as there is no chemical run-off when not using pesticides beneficial insects, birds or small animals are not affected by the use of chemicals.

Health- pesticides can cause cancer, diabetes as well as damage your reproductive and nervous system. But as your produces will be pesticide-free, you’ll better your health.

Money- using pesticides will cost you some money. Fortunately, natural ways of killing pests are cheap, plus some of them like handpicking, don’t cost anything (source).

Disadvantages of Gardening without Pesticides

Well, gardening without pesticides involves extra effort. Note that you can buy readymade pesticides and use them in your garden. However, with natural methods, most of them are DIY. Therefore, you have to make the solution yourself. Plus, in cases where you have to handpick bugs from your plants, it can take much time and effort. Also, although natural remedies are effective, they are less efficient compared to using pesticides. So for farms which have been largely infested, they may not be very helpful.

What Plants Are More Resistant Without Pesticides at All?

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are those designed to produce or be more resistant to pesticides. GM crops have been modified such that they are toxic to insects. Often these plants are called Bt as they came from a bacterial species genes called Bacillus thuringensis. Such plants include maize and cotton. Some pest-resistant crops also include garlic, onion, pearl millet, and gooseberry.

What Plants Need Pesticides in Most Cases?

Most farmers use pesticides to get rid of organisms that damage their crops. In fact, some experts claim that certain plants will not be practical to grow without using pesticides. Basically, all non-GMO plants need pesticides. However, some plants are more prone to pests than others. They include cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, peas, zucchini, leeks as well as tuberous vegetables like turnips, carrots, etc. In such plants, pesticides will be more efficient in getting rid of pest infestations.

Tips to Garden without Pesticides

If you love the idea of organic gardening, here are some tips for you.

Use organic sprays and remedies as they’re not full of chemicals. Consider these remedies as alternatives to persistent pest problems. Some popular recipes for organic sprays include garlic sprays, baby shampoo spray, and oil spray.

Use barriers if possible- fencing your garden can discourage some pests such as raccoons or rabbits.

Do regular inspections- a quick detection of bugs or other pests will help control the infestation before it becomes a huge problem. Gardeners should tour their gardens regularly and watch out for pest infestation signs such as wilting plants, discolored leaves, etc. One should also remove weed and water their plants often.

Encourage good bugs in your garden. Not all bugs are bad. Therefore, if you spray pesticides always, you may be killing helpful bugs. Some bugs prey on other pests like lizards gnaw on slugs and wasps gorge on aphids.

Grow different plants. Planting the same plant, in the same spot many times will deplete your soil of nutrients. This discourages the plant from growing and encourages harmful bugs to infest your garden. Your annual gardening plan should include varieties of flowers, herbs, and vegetables. You should also practice rotational gardening (source).

Final Thoughts

Well, gardening without pesticides is possible. Plus, it can be simple, inexpensive and eco-friendly. But, as not all pests can be removed using the same method, you should learn of several ways of keeping different pests at bay.

If you’ve tried natural methods and the pests still continue thriving in your garden, you should hire a professional pest control company.