One of the things that is often forgotten, even by organic gardeners, is that we need some pests to attract the things that eat them. It is very important not to be too zealous in your attempts to rid yourself of pests – no matter how annoying they may be.
Often, people imagine that organic pest control is all about finding like-for-like alternatives to harmful synthetic pesticides. And there are indeed plenty of organic products to help you deal with an acute and serious pest problem.
But pesticides – even organic ones like garlic/ neem oil etc. – should be viewed as the ‘nuclear option’. They should always only be viewed as a last resort, and not simply utilised at the first sight of a pest.
It is more important to take a holistic approach. Boosting biodiversity is the number one objective. The more biodiverse your garden, the more natural systems will be able to thrive. Increased biodiversity means greater stability and resilience in the garden ecosystem.
In a biodiverse garden, they may well be plenty of aphids, for example. But there will also be plenty of ladybirds, hoverflies, etc.. to eat those aphids. Insects will bring in the birds, some of which will also eat other pests like slugs… and so everything reaches a kind of equilibrium.
By taking a live and let live approach, you will be kinder to the planet. But it can also make your life easier as a gardener. You will have an army of creatures helping you garden, keeping things under control.
Another thing about increasing biodiversity is that growing a wide range of different plants (which attract in beneficial wildlife) will also mean that it matters less when you have the odd loss to pests. Think about the phrase ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’.
When it comes to organic pest control, it is important to stay relatively relaxed. Look closely, be vigilant. Use physical barriers (like netting/ row covers/ cloches etc.) where necessary to stop things getting out of control. But don’t worry too much about the odd nibbled leaf. And remember – even pests are integral part of a healthy ecosystem.