The harmful effect that chemical pesticides have on our health, bodies and the environment is concerning. At Eminence Organic Skin Care, we pride ourselves on using organic and biodynamic farming methods to grow the purest ingredients to make our award-winning skincare products. Our natural and organic philosophy is important to us and if you’ve already made the switch to growing your own herbs and vegetables, we know it’s equally important to you.
But how do you continue growing a luscious, organic garden naturally without pests ruining your hard work? This is where creating organic pesticides comes in.
We’ve created a list of natural pesticides that serve as viable alternatives to the chemical kind. Although we don’t necessarily use all the methods listed at the Eminence Certified Organic Farm, we support the use of natural solutions to protecting plants from insects.
Companion Planting For Organic Pest Control
Companion planting is like a game of mix and match – it’s all about matching plants that can support and benefit each other, whether they’re flowers, fruits, vegetables or herbs. When you plant your veggies with others they like (or don’t like), it can help attract or limit pests – making it a useful method of organic pest control. In order to protect the plants that unwanted insects love, strategically place them next to plants that they just can’t stand.
The benefits of companion planting also extend well beyond organic pest control. You can use it as a tool to keep your soil healthy, protect delicate plants by pairing them with tougher varieties and even save space if you only have a small garden.
Take Advantage of Pests’ Natural Enemies
Not all insects are unwanted pests. Ladybugs, parasitic wasps, spiders and ground beetles act as a natural insecticide because they eat the insects that prey on your plants. To encourage the good guys into your garden, be sure to plant pollen or nectar-producing plants.
Aside from the creepy crawlers, birds often serve as a valuable ally in managing unwanted pests. They mine our organic gardens for cabbage worms, whiteflies, aphids, earwigs, grasshoppers, cucumber beetles and grubs. To attract more birds into your garden, try setting up a shelter where they can take cover from the weather or invest in a birdbath. Birds are particularly attracted to moving water, and creating a spot they can drink or bathe will draw them in. If those don’t do the trick, try leaving a bird feeder out for them.
Use Physical Barriers
A practical way you can prevent pests from ruining your garden is to create a physical barrier against them. Try using a net that sits over your plants, leaving enough room for them to grow. If using a floating row cover, pin the sides to the ground to stop any nasty pests from crawling in under the edges.
For a simple, homemade option, you can use cardboard as a ‘collar’ to press into the soil around the base of the plant. This helps defend your plants from cutworms and other insects that can access your plant through the soil.
Homemade Pesticide Sprays
An effective alternative to chemical pesticides is a soap spray. Castile soap acts as a powerful, natural insecticide and when mixed with water, you can spray it directly onto the infected area of your plants. To make a soap spray, mix 1 tablespoon of liquid Castile soap with 1 quart of warm water (just shy of 1 litre) and place into a spray bottle. To further repel insects, you can also add in 1 teaspoon of pureed garlic or cayenne pepper to your mixture.
Tip: Avoid using harsh, household detergents and spraying your plants during the hottest part of the day. This can damage and even burn your plants.
Natural Pesticide Remedy
If you’re already growing herbs in your garden, put them to good use by creating an organic pesticide herbal spray. Essentials oils from sage, thyme, rosemary, mint and lavender ward off certain insects. To create a homemade herbal spray, take the trimmings or crushed leaves from your herbs, soak them in a bucket overnight, then strain. You could also integrate these herbs into your companion planting strategy.
Store-bought essential oils work just as effectively. Orange oil, in particular, is highly effective because it wipes out entire colonies and prevents re-infestation. Adding orange oil to the Castile soap spray can also repel slugs and be sprayed directly onto ants and roaches. Just be sure to dilute any essential oils in water first.
The key to organic pest control is to find a natural option that keeps the nasty bugs away while keeping the health of your plant intact. The same can be said for our bodies and skin – always choose wisely for what goes in and onto your body. You can find out more about the farming philosophy on the Eminence Certified Organic Farm here.