One of the biggest mistakes which people make when making the switch to organic gardening is thinking about pests as a problem which can be solved with a topical application.
As a consultant, I fairly regularly receive questions about pests. And people often expect an answer which involves a specific formulation for plants infested with certain pests.
There are of course organic pesticides that can be used. But organic gardening does not just involve avoiding harmful pesticides and herbicides etc.. It also involves thinking more holistically about a pest problem.
The first and most important thing to remember about pests in an organic garden is that your goal should not be to eliminate pests altogether. Some creatures in a garden can pose a problem for home growers. But each is also a crucial part of the garden ecosystem.
Eliminating pests altogether can also bring more problems down the road. Getting rid of all aphids, for example, is counterproductive. Because when there are no aphids, there will be none of the creatures which prey on these pests. You need some aphids to draw in the ladybirds, lacewings etc. which eat them.
Maintaining balance in the garden ecosystem is the best way to manage all pest problems. And maintaining balance involves remaining vigilant, spotting pest species as soon as they arrive, protecting specific plants when necessary, and taking steps to avoid their populations getting out of control.
While I could recommend certain organic sprays for severe infestations of certain pests – these are generally an extreme solution, and are often unnecessary when the right sustainable gardening strategies have been employed.
Ensure a diversity of plant life, companion plant, choose the right plants for the right places, take care of the soil, create a range of habitats to enrich the space and attract plenty of wildlife… these are the fundamentals of sustainable pest control in an organic garden. Think holistically and pest populations are far less likely to get out of control.