Garden pests and Integrated Pest Management

Pest control – most people have issues with this at some point or other if they are involved with growing things! Here at OwnGrown, we try and incorporate Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as much as possible for this, as it’s safer and has less of an impact.

IPM is an effective and environmentally friendly approach to pest management.  Based on common sense practices,and used a lot in Permaculture, it focuses on the growth of healthy plants with the least possible disruption to their ecosystems.  It encourages natural, chemical free pest control, and focuses on control rather than eradication.

POINTS TO REMEMBER WITH INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT

Balance
Try and let nature find its own balance without interfering.

There are good guys (natural enemies of pests) and bad guys (pests)
Don’t assume all bugs are bad and kill everything.  A great garden is one that is alive with buzzing, crawling and jumping life. Using pesticides will get rid of pests, but only for a short time and they will be back with a vengeance. You would probably have lost all your good guys too!

3849028Encourage the good guys
Try and make peace with the pests in your garden. See them as a food source for the good guys. As opposed to focusing all your energy on eliminating the pests, focus on attracting the beneficial organisms (lizards, chameleons, insect eating birds, ladybird beetles, praying mantis, spiders and wasps). Create natural habitats for the good guys and encourage biodiversity. A good way of attracting the good guys is to have lots of flowers in your garden.

Healthy plants
A strategy that should be number one on your list is to make sure you have the best soil. Make your own compost, get a worm farm and grow green manure crops to feed the soil. Make sure you put back what you take out and your plants will grow strong and healthy. Strong healthy plants = less likelihood of attracting pes

8997137Check plants regularly
Control any pests as soon as you see them. If you see any large pests, such as grass-hoppers, snails or caterpillars, pick them off and stand on them.  If you can’t bring yourself to do this (no way I can!) throw them into a bucket of water (or over the balcony ;-)) Better yet, feed them to the birds or chickens if you have. Small pests such as mielie bug and aphids can be washed off the leaves of the plant with a strong spray. Insects are less of a problem if you have sprinkler irrigation as the spray washes them off the leaves.

Practice crop rotation, inter-cropping and companion planting
6589478Crop rotation
 means growing different plants on the same piece of land each growing cycle. Inter-cropping is the practice of growing two or more crops together. If you have planted one large crop and nothing else – pests can spread quickly and easily. Companion planting is the practice of growing two or more plants, which benefit each other in close proximity. These companions assist each other in nutrient uptake, pest control and pollination. A general rule in any healthy system is to increase diversity through planting poly cultural (multiple plant) systems. That is to say diversity equals resilience.

Homemade pesticide
You can make homemade sprays to control certain pests. Remember though to use this as a last resort and spray only if necessary – not as a preventative measure.  Also don’t spray where you see the good guys busy at work. A tried and tested favourite:

Chilli and Garlic Spray

  • Finely chop1/4 cup of garlic
  • Add a tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder or chopped chilly
  • Add this mixture to 1 litre of hot water, stir well and allow to cool
  • Strain and add 1 teaspoon of eco-friendly dishwashing liquid. Mix well
  • Pour into a spray bottle and shake up
  • Spray caterpillars, aphids, whitefly and red spider mite

Good luck!