The choice to go organic is a
decision not to be taken lightly but the outcome of your
decision can mean a great many things. A natural garden with no
pesticides, chemicals or control other than what nature provides
us with can be a wonderful thing. Your garden can become a haven
for wildlife, plant problems can be solved in all manner of ways
and you can have the satisfaction of growing your own herbs,
fruit and vegetables knowing that they are purely natural.
problems can be maintained by biological controls or introducing
natural predators. Choose varieties of plants that are naturally
pest and disease resistant. Your soil can be maintained by
producing your own compost from kitchen waste or using garden
waste and leaf mould as mulch. Going organic is not only cheaper
but also much more beneficial to our environment. More waste is
recycled and not just thrown away and less packaging is sold in
the form of chemicals and enhancements.
It is not just
the environment that will benefit from more of us going organic
but some of our indigenous creatures too. There has been a
serious decline in certain species that were once found in
abundance in our countryside. If these creatures can find
refuge in our gardens away from their once untouched habitats
that have now been destroyed by roads or the building of houses
then maybe they will be able to make up the numbers again. Bees
are under threat in this country due to a lack of native plants
so it is essential that we try and stay true to our roots.
Native plants grow best in the country they are indigenous to so
why aren't there more? It is no exaggeration to say that the
demise of bees would have serious implications in the plant
world and some species may simply cease to exist if they are not
getting pollinated by bees.
Planting - Marigolds planted next to carrots
- Allow some of your plants such
as sunflowers to seed to provide food for birds in
- Create little habitats for
creatures such as insects, toads and hedgehogs to stay in.
Habitats can be made out of logs, piles of timber or
drainpipes. Situate them in a corner of your garden out of
the way. Toads and hedgehogs will also help you to keep down
the numbers of slugs and snails in your garden.
- Put up bird feeders, bird
houses and bird baths to entice birds. There is nothing
better than watching infant birds take their first flying
lessons in your garden!
- If your garden is of a
reasonable size introduce a pond. This will not only create
a lovely water feature and broaden the plants in which you
can put around it but will also encourage amphibians to
inhabit it. The sight of dozens of little tadpoles swimming
around and lazing newts is a fantastic sight.
- Plant native plants to
encourage bees and birds into your garden. Ensure that the
bees have enough pollen and nectar to survive all year so
grow plants that flower at different times.
Organic gardening will create a
gentle balance between pests and their predators. Ensuring that
the food chain is intact not only helps keep nasty pests at bay
but is also beneficial to your plants. Many pests can seriously
demise the health and growth of a plant if not taken care of so
introducing a few predators will mean that more of your plants
get a chance to grow and bloom.
Organic Pest Control
- Ladybirds and their larvae
will eat aphids such as greenfly and blackfly and also
mites, scale insects and some small caterpillars. Encourage
them by having a patch of nettles or honeysuckle on which
they will find plentiful amounts of aphids to feast on and
having plant debris in which they can hibernate.
- Hoverflies, which are
sometimes mistaken for wasps due to their colouring, have
larvae that will eat up to 50 greenfly a day. They also eat
spider mites and small caterpillars. Mature hoverflies eat
nectar and pollen. Encourage them by growing plants that are
yellow or gold in colour.
- Dragonflies will eat
mosquitoes thus keeping the number down.
- Spiders catch flying pests in
their webs. Provide areas for them to spin their webs
- Lacewings, beetles,
centipedes, predatory mites, hedgehogs, frogs, toads, glow
worms and birds all play an important role in keeping your
garden pest free too.
Plants can also be used to regulate
pests as some will act as a natural deterrent. Used
predominantly in vegetable gardens these plants will stop pests
from nibbling on your produce.
Basil - Repels flies and
Garlic - Deters Japanese
Horseradish - Deters potato
Mint - Deters white cabbage
moths and ants
Peppermint - Repels white
Rosemary - Deters cabbage
moth, bean beetles and carrot fly
Sage - Deters cabbage moth
and carrot fly
Marigolds - Deters aphids
Thyme - Deters cabbage worm
controls such as the ones shown above are achieved by
encouraging natural predators to come into your garden or
planting natural deterrents to aid in pest reduction. Other
biological controls can be introduced directly though if other
methods are found to be lacking or in large areas such as
greenhouses. Biocontrol agents such as predators, pathogens, and
parasitoids are useful in these situations. Predators consume
large amounts of pests in their lifetimes. Pathogens are
organisms that cause disease such as viruses, bacteria and
fungi. They will maim or kill their host and are usually
specific to certain pest groups. Parasitoids develop on or in a
single host so that when they mature they will cause their host
- Phtoseilus persimilis can be
used to combat red spider mites. They will mature from egg
to adult twice as fast as the red spider mite and will
minimise infestations swiftly.
- Nematodes (Phasmarhabditis
hermaphrodita) are used to combat slugs. They will find
slugs, reproduce inside them and kill them. Nematodes are
applied to moist soil by watering and will protect for up to
six weeks. Usually used on immature slugs under the surface
of the soil.
- Trichoderma viride is a fungus
used to combat plant disease. It can be used to treat fungal
and bacterial growth on tree wounds and for Dutch Elm
disease. The potential is also there for treating silver
The pros and cons of introducing
new species and methods of biological control into any garden
need to be addressed. There have been cases of species being
introduced to combat a certain pest or disease and in turn
eliminating other species or creating new diseases. Natural,
native answers may be the only way forward. For every prey there
is a predator and it is usually lurking somewhere close. If you
can plant your garden accordingly and introduce these pests then
the predators will follow. Chemicals may eliminate pests but
they will also deter any predators from entering your garden as
there will be no food source for them to eat. These natural
predators may soon have nowhere else to go and if we keep
killing the food of which they need to survive we may soon see a
massive decline in these wonderful creatures.