Gardening organically is one of the most important things to do if you want to make sure you’re living sustainably and doing the right thing in your outdoor spaces. Organic gardening means avoiding the use of harmful synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides; however, in an organic garden, avoiding these harmful elements is only the beginning.

There are a number of common misunderstandings when it comes to organic pest control. It is important to understand that we should not simply find organic alternatives to conventional pesticides. We should take a much more holistic approach.

To help gardeners who want to be more eco-friendly and sustainable in their gardens, I thought it would be helpful to look at some of the most common misconceptions and mistakes people make in organic pest control.

Try to eliminate pests completely

First things first, it’s important, when trying to manage pests organically, to reevaluate your goals. I can cite many examples of gardeners who came to my garden consultation asking how to “get rid” of a certain “pest” in their gardens.

The answer is almost always that you shouldn’t. This is not the goal in organic pest control. A healthy, biodiverse and sustainable garden does not have to be pest-free. It is important to remember that every creature has its place within an ecosystem. Each plays an important role in the food chain and the environment, even those commonly considered pests.

The goal in any organic garden is not to completely eliminate pests, but rather to protect certain plants, while keeping the ecosystem in balance and making sure that no species gets out of control. To keep pests under control, we need to strive for as much biodiversity as possible—to welcome a varied range of wildlife, including predatory species that keep pest numbers down.

To attract beneficial wildlife, we need to plant and add other wildlife-friendly features to draw them into the space. But remember, the number one thing we need to attract predators to our gardens are the very pests whose numbers we are trying to limit. Without these pest species, the beneficial wildlife will not have them to eat.

If we eliminate these pests, we also eliminate their predators. So, when these creatures inevitably return, there may be a surge in their populations, as there will be nothing around to eat them.

Try to fight nature rather than work with it

A common mistake people make when thinking about organic pest control is to view the entire enterprise of organic gardening as a war against the natural world.

In a garden we try to tame the natural world in some ways. But rather than seeing it as a battle against the forces of nature and wildlife around us, we should reform our thinking and instead strive to work in harmony with nature.

Organic pest control is best thought of as a collaboration. This can only be achieved when the efforts of the gardener combine with the function of the natural ecosystem as a whole. By looking and listening closely, and by learning from nature, we can find solutions to work with the world around us to get the returns we want and need.

We don’t garden alone. This understanding is crucial in an organic garden. Every living organism within the system has a role to play. Pest control can become much simpler if, instead of waging war, we work together – use our knowledge of the natural world to combine plants in certain ways and bring beneficial wildlife into our space.

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Jump straight to the ‘core option’

Those looking into organic pest control for the first time will often jump straight to looking for alternatives to synthetic pest control products. But any pesticide, even an organic one, should only be considered in extremis – as the “core option”, if you will.

Remember, if we kill pests, we also cut off the food source for beneficial creatures that help keep pest numbers down. So, it can actually make matters worse in the long run. Before we look to organic pesticides, we need to dig deeper and make more fundamental changes to address any problems.

First, remember that plants will be much more resilient and able to resist pest species if they are as healthy and happy as possible. This means that organic pest control always starts with choosing the right plants for the right places and caring for them correctly. We need to understand their needs in terms of sunshine and shade, wind, water and soil and create optimal growing conditions.

Next, we need to consider plant choices with reference not only to their own individual needs, but also recognize that plants interact with each other in complex ways. Companion planting is a key strategy in organic pest control. This involves choosing plants that will be good neighbors for each other—to improve environmental conditions, attract beneficial creatures, and/or repel, confuse, or distract certain pest species to keep their companions safe.

To ensure that plants are as healthy as possible and the practice of companion planting can help to keep an ecosystem in balance. But of course there will still be pests. Sometimes we can simply “live and let live”—plants or some of the yield lost to wildlife can be considered “taxes” in our gardens.

However, sometimes those taxes can be prohibitively high. Still, we don’t need to immediately resort to pesticides, even organic ones. Instead, we should first consider physical barriers such as fences, nets, fruit cages or cloches to keep plants safe.

Thinking holistically and finding ways to keep pest numbers under control, rather than eliminating them entirely, will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes people make in organic pest control.

By admin

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