Biological Pest Control: Prevent Garden Pests the Natural Way!
Garden pests are a challenge for every gardener. An unwelcome visit from a hoard of aphids or Cabbage White larvae can decimate your carefully tended plants in no time at all. So, how do you protect your garden without having to reach for harmful chemical insecticides? The answer lies in understanding how plants and wildlife interact in a natural garden environment. Biological pest control methods can be very effective at saving your garden from a serious infestation. So, we’ve compiled a list of some of the things you can do to help prevent garden pests the natural way.
Keep soil healthy
A rich, healthy, well-balanced soil will produce healthier, more pest resistant plants and is more likely to contain beneficial microbes that can help to keep pests under control. Adding extra invertebrate pathogenic nematodes to the soil can also be useful. These micro-organisms kill invertebrate pests and then feed on the remains but are not harmful to vertebrates or plants.
Feeding your garden well, adding quality organic matter between planting, rotating crops and generally looking after your soil goes a long way in deterring insects that may harm your plants.
Encourage the right wildlife
For every pest there’s a predator. Attracting the natural predators of common pests is a very effective form of biological pest control to keep bugs and other damaging wildlife at bay. Birds, bats, bees, hedgehogs – there are many animals that can enhance the ecological balance of the garden.
For example, birds and ground beetles feed on slugs and snails, owls are great at keeping rodents under control and ladybirds and lacewings love snacking on aphids. So, keep the bird feeders stocked up and make sure you have plenty of flowers and other plants throughout the garden that will attract the right pest controllers. With natural predators on patrol, you’ll encounter far fewer problems.
As well as using the natural wildlife to deal with pests, plants can also be a great weapon in your arsenal. Interplanting your crops with plant varieties that pests detest can be surprisingly effective. Plants and flowers with strong scents are off-putting for many pests. Herbs are great – try punchy varieties like coriander, oregano, rosemary, chives, mint and thyme. Flowering plants like lavender, alliums, nasturtiums and marigolds are not well-liked either and the pungent odour of onions and garlic can also be successful in keeping in the peskier bugs to a minimum.
Adding variety rather than planting a lot of one crop in the same place will also stop a large number of pests getting too comfy in their dream habitat. So, try and break up your planting if you can. Pop a few unwelcome surprises between your brassicas and those butterflies are far more likely to lay their eggs elsewhere.
Achieving a natural balance in the garden
Pests are an inevitable feature of gardens and greenhouses and they all have their purpose within the ecosystem. Finding an aphid or two here and there is perfectly natural – the trick is achieving a healthy, natural balance where pests aren’t able to run rampant. For organic gardeners, harnessing the power of nature to achieve horticultural harmony, is always the most attractive option.