A gardener’s enemy are pests. They can destroy your entire garden by the time you finish reading this article! To see that you continue reading this fortnightly column, we’ve listed a few tips that will keep that smile on your face.
The column stresses on Organic practices because it not only helps you, but also the beneficial insects, your plants, the soil and birds.
World pesticide use exceeds 5.0 billion lbs at a total cost of approximately $ 64.5 billion but less than 0.1% actually makes it to the target pest, the remaining either enters the food chain, seeps into the ground or reaches the sea due to soil erosion.
Both the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has resulted in the creation of Dead Zones. Dead zones are low-oxygen areas in the world’s oceans that have caused the depletion in marine life. According to a report, around 405 such dead zones exist in the world’s oceans. Some of these are as small as a sq. kilometre, but the largest dead zone covers around 70,000 sq. kilometres!
Every plant is susceptible to diseases and pests but they are also capable to withstand such unfortunate attacks most of the times, like any other being in the planet. Due to Mans intervention using chemical alternatives, these beings have gotten weaker and dependent. Traditionally the relationship between plants and Man was that of a partner, but now through conventional practices, the relationship is that of a Master and Slave. The natural and organic way is to lead our practices back to the traditional ones, making Man an asset in the process. No wonder, the mineral & nutrient levels in organic farm produce is 30-400% higher than Chemical based farm produce!
Listed below are the most toxic produce (in order of toxicity) and least toxic produce for fruits and vegetables:
So what are these ‘sensible’ alternatives to chemical pesticides? What will keep your food safe yet bring a smile on Mother Nature’s face?
Here are a few very effective pesticides, but before that some handy tips before you go about spraying at just about anything having found the elixirs formula J
- Spray during early mornings or late evenings, when the sun sets as the ‘good guys’ have gone back home after a good days job in your garden and while the ‘bad guys’ are still eating what ideally should be on your plate.
- Don’t spray right before rain or during the heat of the day. Or else your hard work will evaporate or wash away.
- Don’t go crazy and spray your whole garden. Focus on crops that you have trouble with or think you may have trouble with. Spray at the affected area only.
- As a precautionary measure, spray once in two weeks and note the areas that are inaccessible to you either by sight or by hands. These are the areas where the ‘bad guys’ make merry.
- Keep a careful eye on your garden after spraying. If you notice ladybirds, butterflies and bees are disappearing, or anything else unusual is going on, it’s time you hit the brakes! You may be doing more harm to the ecology than good.
- Try not to spray when your beneficial insects are around. You have help at hand apart from your spray that is!
Now the list that you have been waiting for:
- Spray with soapy water (biodegradable soap). The soap breaks down their (pests) outer coating and the result is deadly for them.
- Mulching heavily (at least 3 inches) around garden plants helps protect them from many soil-borne fungi, including black spot, tomato leaf spot, and powdery mildew.
- A blast of water from the hose will take care of many insect pests, including aphids.
- Neem Oil: They’re a life saver when it comes to pests.
- Garlic: Mince 4-6 garlic cloves. Boil them in water and after the water cools, strain and spray.
- This one is pretty funny as it gives the pest a bad stomach! Take 2-4 table spoons of wheat flour. Add a tea spoon of biodegradable dishwashing liquid and mix them in warm water and stir so that the flour dissolves to pass through the sprayer. On application the flour turns into a sticky substance that can hold pests like a sticky trap or give it a bad stomach if the insect eats it!
Remember the spray is in your hands.
Author: Vaibhav Dugar
Me, I am a Green Warrior and yes you are either with me or against me! On paper I’m a telecommunication engineer but professionally, a farmer. Work takes me setting many-a-farms, tilling many-a-lands and playing with soil which I thoroughly enjoy. I love playing football (avidly), going cycling, watching Formula 1 and writing!
If you need company to watch Formula 1, pit stop at Vaibhav.Dugar [at] EkTitli.org
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