Millions of google search results exist for garden pest control, but I did not find one “real” hit when searching “no-spray pest control.” There are many many organic and non-organic pest control substances found in today’s world, but what if today’s world disappears? How will you grow your garden and win the war against the pests?
The health of a plant may determine it’s susceptibility to diseases and pests. In Florida, we have a law called the Florida-Friendly Landscape and it outlines nine principles for water conservation. Number one is “Right Plant, Right Place”. “Right place” includes proper soil, water needs, nutrients, sun hours and space requirements. If you plant the right plant for your growing zone in the right place, it will be healthier and stronger. Learn about your growing zone and use it as a guideline.
Your Growing Zone and No Spray Pest Control
Planting corn in October in Growing zone #4 is not a good example of right plant, right place. However, planting corn in January in growing zone # 10a is a good start. Vegetables planted “out of season” are very susceptible to many pests, as per the University of Florida IFAS Vegetable Gardening Guide.
Members of the same vegetable family should be rotated, if possible, from area to area. Members of the same family of vegetables attract the same pests and harbor the same disease. By rotating your growing areas, the pests looking for that vegetable will be lost. Diseases wintering over in the soil won’t have a host.
Plant your seeds with beneficial mycorrhizae fungi. See a previous post for more information: https://www.drbonesandnurseamyshow.prepperpodcast.com/2011/02/secrets-of-healthy-soil.html .Mycorrhizae fungi forms a connection with the root system of your growing vegetable or fruit plants. It brings extra water and nutrients to the root system that are normally beyond the root’s reach. It also competes with diseases in the soil and protects the root system. Mycorrhizae fungi comes in a powder form and can be made into a paste or added to a watering can. For larger seeds coat them in the paste and for smaller seeds or transplants of seedlings, use the watering can mixture. A stronger, healthier plant is more disease resistant and can handle a few pests.
Mulching the ground after planting seeds or plants will cut down on weeds. Weeds can be a source of diseases and insects. Weeds can also compete with the seeds or new plants for nutrients and water. Pine straw, eucalyptus and fallen leaves are all great mulches. Even shredded paper could be used. All of these mulches will break down and add nutrients (unlike artificial mulch) to the soil just like compost. My favorite mulch is pine straw.
Seed selection for disease resistance is recommended, however, make sure they are heirloom or heritage, and not hybrid or GMO seeds. If you can get seeds grown in your area that have naturally become disease resistant, you will be ahead of the game. If you want seeds acclimated to your area, save the seeds from the most disease and pest-resistant plants from each crop. I planted purple podded pole beans and kept the seeds from the most disease resistant plants. In an experiment, I planted original seeds and the saved seeds together. The saved seeds grew at twice the growth rate and are disease resistant after one generation, and I had to pull out the original seed plants due to disease. I am shocked, but it just proves my point. Acclimation and disease resistance can occur rapidly!
Collars can be made around the base of plants. These can be made from a bottomless plastic cup or a waxed cardboard carton. Collars will protect plants from cutworm pests. They should extend a few inches above (and at least an inch below) the surface of the ground, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension website.
Row covers provide a physical barrier to pests. There are “light weight” versions that allow good sunlight to come through, but prevent pests from eating your plants! They also allow rain and fresh air to penetrate your plants. Remember to remove them when
it’s time for pollination.
Frequently scout the garden for pests. Nothing says “good-bye pests” like your watchful eye. Inspect the plants from the bud to the soil, including both the upper and lower leaf surfaces. A garden journal will provide accurate data and methods previously used, so you can see what actually works for you.
Learn about beneficial insects. In the circle of life, most “bad” bugs have a predator that will help you get rid of the problem. Some of these good predators can be attracted to your garden with flowers or herbs; learn about these! Predators or good bugs can also be purchased and released in your garden.
Flowers and herbs can also repel “bad” bugs. Aphids, for example, will be repelled by garlic, chives, coriander, anise, nasturtium, petunia, and catmint. Slugs hate rosemary and wormwood. Cucumber beetles are repelled by tansy and radish.Whitefly, tomato hornworms and nematodes hate marigolds. You don’t have to bring out the sprays to prevent bad bugs all the time!
Large insects can be removed by hand and destroyed. A soapy water mixture will be the death of them. Aphids release a hormone when squashed that signals other aphids to leave the area! I have squashed enough of them to alert the nation…
Harvest ripened foods when ready; do not allow them to rot on the plant. Rotting attracts harmful pests and diseases. When the plant has finished production, remove it from the ground. If the plant is pest- and disease-free you can put it into your compost!
Add organic matter to your soil to reduce nematode populations. Nematodes are a microscopic population that attack the root system and cause reduced growth and harvest. However, there are “predatory” nematodes that actually benefit the plants and are beneficial to organic gardeners . These can also be purchased online or from a local garden supply.
If a collapse situation ever occurs, the above strategies can keep your garden healthy and productive. There is one “spray” method of pest and disease control, however, that I want to share with you. Neem oil (google NEEM). I have discussed it in my podcasts, and I swear by it. I use a dilute concentration in water, and it has eliminated whiteflies and decreased aphid infestations. It’s also been useful with some leaf blights. Stock up on neem oil as you would with any other important supply to have in a collapse situation!