Organic Pest and Disease control
Most vegetables are susceptible to a range of pests and diseases. In some cases correct soil management and crop rotation can help to prevent mineral deficiencies in the soil and certain diseases and pest build-ups but sometimes stronger action needs to be taken.
Conventional farming methods advocate the use of strong chemicals on vegetable plants in order to deal with diseases and pests, but these chemicals are harmful and often cannot be fully removed from the plant before eating despite washing and peeling. In addition these harmful chemicals will then made their way into your water and soil system forever, killing off good organic organisms and leaving your soils lifeless and your water toxic.
Therefore organic farmers choose to work with nature to deal with the problems of disease and pests.
Here are some of the things you can do:
1. Keep a close eye on your plants each week and if you see certain plants being affected by something then remove the leaves or culprits. For example, take a walk through your veggie patch at night when the snails, slugs and caterpillars are active and pull them off the plants and kill them immediately, dealing with the problem without harmful chemicals.
2. Read the section on companion planting and how growing certain plants together can help to protect them from disease and pests.
3. Follow strict crop rotation plans so that your plants are always planted in a new area of your garden to avoid diseases in the soil and pests building up in that area.
4. There are certain natural vegetables that birds and pests don’t like much like onions, garlic and chillies (that is why these remain pest free in your garden) so use this knowledge in order to make your own organic pesticide.
Organic Pesticide Recipe
• Cut up 2 onions, 4 chillies and a whole garlic clove.
• Put the ingredients into a large pot and add warm water.
• Leave the mixture to stand for at least 20 minutes.
• Then strain the mixture and add 2 tablespoons of organic dishwashing soap to the mixture. Then pour it into a spray bottle and spray onto your affected plants to keep the bugs away.
You will need to spray them often for best results and definitely after it rains.
5. The best way to attract good bugs and keep away bad bugs is to plant a wide variety of vegetables in your organic garden as this will camouflage the host plants that the bad pests are looking to eat and attract a variety of predator insects which feed on pests.
6. Birds can be one of the biggest menaces to an organic gardener. You could try building a scarecrow and moving it around your garden often, or tying cut-up plastic packets to your fruit trees and plants to deter them but the best way to keep them away from your vegetables and fruit trees is to cover them with shade net. This also goes for keeping rabbits and small buck away from your plants.
7. Plant diseases (such as mould, mildew, rust or fungus) thrive in humid wet conditions so make sure that there is adequate air circulation around your plants. Also, when you water, try not to wet the whole plant but try to get the water to the roots where it is needed (although some more tropical plants such as peppers, tomatoes and chillies do enjoy a spray of water to increase humidity levels for good growing). If you do see any disease spots forming on your plant leaves, remove the leaves from the plant and burn them.