Friday, April 24, 2009

All Natural Pest Control for Your Garden

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
My Container Garden of Tomatoes

Is Pest-Free and Healthy

Yard work time is one of Tanner's favorite activities. He darts all over the yard, chasing everything that moves. Today, when we came outside early, he even corralled a Raccoon and treed the poor fella. Good thing they're good climbers.

You name it. Lizards, insects, toads and squirrels, Tanner was busy chasing them all. He was so tired when we came inside, he didn't even make it into the kitchen. He collapsed on the doggie gate I use to keep track of Oliver. Cute, huh?!

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Tanner is Exhausted
After a Long Morning on Pest Patrol

Other than Tanner, I do have some other methods of pest control that are toxin free. When you read on, you'll probably think I'm crazy, but this stuff is really working. And I'm feeling pretty good that it isn't going to put chemicals in my yard that will end up polluting our environment.

And that doesn't even consider that I'm growing basil and tomatoes, which I also want to protect from chemicals and toxins. If you visualize your salad with bug spray in it, can you eat it? It makes me shudder to think of that.

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

My Container Grown Basil

Looks Healthy and Grows Fast

Here in Florida, Spring is in full bloom, and the fleas have apparently hit their mating cycle with renewed vigor. After a particularly cold Winter, I had hoped this would slow the pesky bugs, but I hear from friends and neighbors that they are really multiplying quickly.

I had my organic lawn care company, Jolly Green Planet, visit for a flea treatment to my yard, and so far we're doing great. They use food grade DE, or Diatomaceous Earth, to stop fleas and other small insects by cutting them, just like tiny shards of glass. I also sprinkle it on the dogs and rub it into their fur, creating a secondary barrier right on the dog. It won't hurt them if they lick it, and it can be sprinkled on carpet or bedding--anywhere the dog spends a lot of time. We frequently leave the yard for walks, bike rides, dog park visits and other outings, so putting it directly on them is imperative. They need to be protected wherever we go.

Here are a few other long-term maintenance tips to make pest control less damaging and more environmentally friendly in your yard:

  1. Pick the pests off by hand. Create barriers and traps and plug holes. Seek out snails that hide in damp places under rocks and at the base of plants with straplike foliage.
  2. Lure predatory insects such as green lacewings and dragonflies to feed on your aphids and other pests that attack your plants. One way to do this is by leaving a bowl of water in the garden. This will attract the dragonflies, and they will go after some of the other insects, when they come to visit your handy water bowl, provided just for them.
  3. Another method of manual pest control is a tad bit less hands on than number 1 above. This is using a spray nozzle to dislodge the insects from the plants. The drawback is that it won't prevent them from coming back, unless the water pressure kills them. If that's the case, you may cause damage to the plant as well. Use this method with care.
  4. Using a sprayer with a vegetable soap solution or natural oil solution works well for me. I've had good luck with a product called Nature's RX, made right here in my community in Central Florida. You gotta love local companies who are bringing jobs to our local economy. This liquid is made of cedar oil and soybean oil. It is labeled for many insects, including scale (a big problem in Central Florida), aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites, white-flies, thrips, flea larvae, and chinch bugs--another problem for our most popular Florida turf, St. Augustine grass. Additionally, it has anti-fungal properties to help prevent fungus during our rainy season. Nature's RX does not list a website on their product, so I'll pass along their phone number here: (407) 953-7307. I get it at my local natural foods store, which happens to be a smaller store--not a chain. Check your Whole Foods; I may have seen it there also.
  5. Green Aphids and Mites can be fought off with 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and a cup of vegetable oil. Use a biodegradable, all-natural soap like Dr. Bronner's. Dilute a teaspoon of this solution in a cup of water and spray it on.
Ed Begley Jr. mentions using soap solutions for pest control in his garden, in Living Like Ed. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. He's been gardening organically for 30+ years and shares a wealth of wisdom. I'll put a link to it below, if you'd like to order it here.

This should get you and your healthy garden started. If you have other pest problems, I'd love to hear about them. I'll check out potential solutions. On the flip side, I would love to hear your own success stories via comment below, following the post, or email me at

Finally, the Safer Pest Control Project, SPCP, and over two hundred other organizations across the country have coordinated a large scale effort to promote the use of natural lawncare. You can join the National Coalition for Pesticide Free Lawns, and make a statement for a toxin-free Earth. Check out the new website to sign a declaration at Pesticide Free Lawns and find great information on alternatives to pesticides for the garden. The Pesticide Free Zone sign is a national symbol for this effort.

Sources: Biodelice, Safer Pest Control Project

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