Organic pest control is more than just spraying organic herbicides on your weeds and organic garden pesticide/herbicide concoctions on your plants.
Organic garden pest control is about creating conditions in your garden so weeds and pests don’t cause a problem in the first place.
This strategy is more scientific, thorough and successful than the homemade organic pest control products you will find online and in books.
It’s an important topic, which is why one of the 3 main focuses of this site is “how to control insects, diseases and weeds forever without any chemicals.”
And yet, I don’t spend all that much time talking specifically about organic garden pest control because it gets taken care of when you learn how to properly care for your soil, fertilize, water, etc. – when you learn to create a healthy ecosystem in your organic garden.
But I occasionally write about it specifically, and here are my articles on organic gardening pest control…
Not all snails and slugs are pests, so if they’re not eating your plants, you don’t need to get rid of them in your organic garden.
Slugs and snails are closely related.
The main difference is that snails have a shell, while slugs don’t.
Most molluscs live in the water, but slugs and snails are the two that can live on land as well.
So, you want to know how to get rid of moles and voles (and gophers)?
First of all, moles are great!
They plow the soil and eat insects such as grubs.
Of course, they do leave behind some tunnels.
And while they don’t eat your plants, they can disturb them.
About 1 out of 2.5 people in North America will get cancer at some point in their lives.
I notice an interesting parallel between how we treat cancer and how we treat pests in our gardens.
The main ways our medical system tries to get rid of cancer are to cut it out (surgery), burn it out (radiation) and poison it out (chemotherapy).
I’m not here to discuss the merit of these practices, but I think most of my readers would agree that there are at least some additional strategies that would be nice to consider if we’re interested in taking more of a holistic approach.
Certainly the cut/burn/poison methods don’t do anything to address the root cause of disease, nor do they leave our bodies in a healthier state, so it’s pretty clear that also incorporating some methods of improving our health could play a tremendous role in treating many types of disease.
Phil: Hey guys it’s Phil from smilinggardener.com. It’s actually getting warm at here, I think this might be the last video where I am wearing my faithful green sweater here. If you haven’t picked up my free online organic gardening course, you can do that right on the home page of smilinggardener.com.
Today I am talking about organic weed control. Now for many of us organic weed control means we are down on our hands and knees for hours at a time pulling weeds, you can tell right now but I was down on my hands and knees and we really start to after a while to think that weeds are the enemies, especially weeds like bindweed and some of those grassy weeds which just keep putting up shoots all over the place. I am going to give you some tips on how to kill weeds naturally today but first I want to talk about the benefits of weeds some of us realized you know that can’t be just that simple that weeds are all bad, the truth is weeds are soil healers.
A number of weeds are nitrogen fixers like this is vetch and this is something I actually planted as a cover crop but it is helping to get more nitrogen into the soil, same with clover is a common weed, people would call the weed in the line even though it wasn’t long ago that it used to be included in lawn seed and it’s coming back a little bit today the people started to do a little bit of that but that is a nitrogen fixing plant. It’s working with bacteria to help improve the nitrogen in the soil, other than pulling weeds by hand there are number of things you can do. I am going to give you six of them today.
If you get cheap seed it’s going to have a lot of weed seeds in and you don’t want to do that, likewise when you are bringing in compost or when you are composting, you want to make sure you are creating a hot compost pile or buying really good compost for most of those weed seeds will have been killed because if you spread compost that has or top soil that has horse tiller or something like that you are bringing that into your garden. It’s not a great thing, so that’s number one as try to be clean. Second step is balancing your soil fertility and actually that’s what I was going to bring out my soil test for I remember now.
So I am not going to get in much detail here but when I look at this organic soil test result I can look especially at my main macronutrients here. I can see my calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium those are all a [indiscernible 02:02] which is certainly common but if we can balance those out based on the recommendations from a good organic soil lab, we will start to see our weed pressure go down, a trusty hope.
Now it’s not always going to kill the weeds but if you just keep doing it a few times, it’s going to weaken them and eventually they wouldn’t cause that much problem, but dandelion, it’s nice if you can pull up that by the tap root it takes so long, now for me personally I leave most of the dandelions in my soil because I know they are doing a lot of good work there but if I did want to get rid of them and this is one handed I would just take a whole and boom, I didn’t get rid of everything but I got rid of a lot, you know the worms like to hang up right in the root zone of a weed. So, that’s another reason weeds are good. Next, how I am going to stop that dandelion from coming up again, well dandelions happen to be pretty strong, they keep come in back otherwise you can weaken them over the time but the next step to controlling weeds is boom.
Throw a nice thick mulch in there leaves or straw or whatever you like to use for mulch, I talked about that before but that is going to stop most weeds from coming up. Let’s go have a look at okay. Let’s check out this new garden that I put in last fall, not a whole lot of weeds going on in here either and that’s because of mulch, does so much to stop weeds. I had a leaf mulching here over the fall and just actually in the last couple of days having lend on a little straw because some of the leaves blew over to that side of the garden, so now I am laying down straw, those are my two favorite kinds of mulch and I do not have any weed problems in this garden.
The next step is to plan very densely, plant poly cultures which are groups of different kinds of plants that all work together to help each other out and the shadow of the soil, now I don’t have much going on this year. Here is my little strawberry batch. It doesn’t have much weed problems because it’s pretty dense on it’s own when it gets going and plant other things in there and I smoldered it with leaves so that’s not a great example this time year and there is the last step right there if you are in a pinch in it vinegar, just regular household vinegar, it’s 5% ascetic acid by volume.
It’s going to get rid of some of those you know dandelions and those really strong perennials but they do a really good job on animals and it will weaken perennials too just like aa hoe does over the time. So, what you do here is you put this in a spray bottle and just spray it especially nice for sidewalks and patios, but even a little bit in the garden is not too big of a deal, now if you want something a little stronger, you can buy horticultural vinegar, it’s 10% to 30% ascetic acid now it’s pretty caustic stuff very ascetic. It can burn you, you got to be careful with it but it can be used with you know to kill more perennial weeds, so those are your six steps. So how to kill weeds naturally, the big thing here is to take a long review.
So all of these other lessons I am teaching you had a balance of your soil and get organic matter in there, all of that stuff is going to create a soil that doesn’t support weeds very well, they just wouldn’t be able to thrive there. So that’s the main one along with smoldering them out with a nice thick organic mulch with very dense plantings or plants with a very dense healthy line, it’s especially important to balance your soil and have a good healthy line to compete weeds there because in the garden we can put a thick mulch on and that can cover a lot.
So that allow me really need to make healthy and that’s what we gotta do that. So the question today is what are your main problem weeds. If you can post that down below I will try to give you some tips specifically on how to deal with those weeds or I will try to tell you if there are any fertility issues that those weeds point to, other than that you can read more detail in this article down below, you can subscribe to my free online course down below that, you can join me on facebook.com/smilinggardener and I will see you next week.
For many of us, organic weed control means many hours crouched in the garden pulling weeds.
And after a while, it’s easy for an organic gardener to begin to think of the buttercups or bindweed as the enemy.
So I’ll give some tips on how to kill weeds naturally in this article.
But at the same time, many of us may have an inkling that weeds aren’t simply the enemy, that it’s more complicated than that.
Phil: Hey guys it’s Phil from smilinggardener.com. If you haven’t picked up my free online organic gardening course, you can do that right on the home page of smilinggardener.com.
Today I am talking about organic garden pest control. Everything I talk about in these lessons I often bows down to three things, increasing organic matter in your soil, balancing out the fertility and improving your soil food web, doing all of that not only grows the nutrient dense food but it really prevents the pests from coming in and the diseases in the insects. So that’s the main thing, even when we are doing a good job of improving all that stuff, we are still going to have the occasional plant that isn’t healthy or group of plants that are healthy and so we are going to get some pests.
We are still going to have some of those and today I am talking a little bit about what you can do when you find you have but even before them it’s still is about prevention, just in terms of some smart practices. So when you are buying plants from the nursery inspect the leaves and even inspect the roots a little bit and see if there are pests problems. You don’t want to buy plants are diseased because that means they are unhealthy and they are going to have disease probably in the future. You don’t want plants with aphids or spider mites or anything like that.
So that’s the number one thing, if you are doing some pruning disinfect your secateurs or your bypass perennials or whatever you are using with some just some hydrogen peroxide, it’s kind like a natural bleach. Another thing you can do is plant aromatic plants that sometimes confuse some insects. So what I do all throughout the garden is I plant garlic, you can see there is not much going on in this garden yet but there are a few garlic that are coming up here and there just because I always tend to plant them around my various plants and I don’t always pick them all.
So that’s prevention, now let’s go on to a couple of short term organic pest control measures you can take. Now what I often do, if I have some plants that are really sick and so they are covered in insects or diseases. I let them die because I know that’s going to encourage the predators of those predators to come in set up shop and start eating them and they will be there for next year and also I just know that food isn’t healthy so I am not that interested in eating it anyway but if you are having a lot of problems, I know you don’t your whole crop to die so you want to do something about it in the short term. Once you know what the predator is then it’s a lot easier to choose what kind of control you are going to do to take care of it, of course you always want to go with at least toxic control and often they are very entirely non-toxic controls but then you know what you are dealing with.
One of the simplest controls for tomato harm worms because it was not that many of them, there is just a handful of them in my plants as I just took them often I squash them. So that’s no big deal. Another one is you can often use of hose to just wash them off so I don’t have my hose here but that works really well for washing a number of things on. One is insecticidal soap, you want to read the label and make sure that it works for the predator that you are dealing with and another one is horticultural oil.
Now these are not entirely benign they are much less toxic than you know a chemical pesticide but when I use something like this. I would like to come through a day later and spray some EM onto my leaves or some compost tea, something to repopulate the leaf surface because if you are using a soap on your leaves it’s going to wash of a lot of the beneficial microorganisms. So I want to repopulate those leaves with something healthy.
The next one is biological controls. Now what some people try to do is order some lady bugs and release them into the garden to take care of their aphids. that’s usually not going to work that well because the lady bugs will probably just go somewhere else, the reason there are not in your garden in the first place is probably because there is nothing really there for them, no reason for them to be there. It can work okay in a greenhouse setting but what I like to do instead is to in my vegetable garden among my vegetables is plant a bunch of different flowers that attract beneficial insects and so right now I don’t really have anything going on because it’s so early in the spring.
Here is a rudbeckia that hopefully attracts and beneficial once it gets growing again this year. Here is echinacea that will attract some beneficial insects. So that can work pretty well too it’s just that’s really what I focus on a lot is planting a bio-diverse garden full of different kinds of plants that are attracting in all these beneficial insects along the same lines you wanna provide water for insects that means a bird bath and not too tidy over bird bath, you want to have it so that parasitic waste and other little insects can get in there and drink, not only bird bath but watering the whole soil and having so then you have little potholes on the soil for them to drink from and providing them other kinds of habitat, water and habitat grasses, rock piles.
I will show you my rock pile. So here is a pile of rock. So it hopefully is a good place for some snakes and other little animals. Here we have just a little pond that has some frogs and toads and things like that. Now I know a lot of people don’t like snakes and spiders but I think we need to encourage them with rocks and other organic piles of debris and even just weedy parts in the corner of the garden. So the goal here is to have a healthy garden with lots of organic matter, minerals fertility with a healthy soil food web. You want to get into prevention by not bringing pets and disease in insects into the garden in the first place. We do have some short term controls.
We can try such as a few sprays we can make or buy but in the long run we are trying to just create a garden that doesn’t attract these predators in the first place but does attract many beneficial insects to take care of any predators that do setup shop. So below why don’t you let me know about your most important predator problem whether it be insect or disease that you have maybe this year, maybe you are already far enough into the season, you are having an issue or maybe last year you had something. If you want a little more detail read the article down below I always post more detail in the article below that you can sign up for my free online organic gardening course, you can join me over on Facebook at facebook.com/smilinggardener and over there I will get my sister to post some naked photos of…
Update: I now recommend neem oil instead of horticultural oil.
As I’ve discussed in other posts, the best organic garden pest control method is a healthy ecosystem.
This means creating the right conditions for thriving, healthy plants by doing things like caring for the soil, watering properly, and having the right plant in the right place.
Phil: Hey Guys! It’s Phil from smilinggardener.com and today we are talking about the benefits of weeds and if you haven’t picked up the 15 Vital Lessons For Becoming A Better Organic Gardener, you can do that right on the homepage of smilinggardener.com.
So, do you remember when I had a particularly weedy lawn of a client of mine and I had to get you to come and help me hand weed the lawn?
H: I do. I think I did it for free. No way. You still owe me.
Phil: I just remember that that – like there were – that was a small front lawn but there were more weeds there than grass, right?
H: Yes. Same at the backyard because I ended taking all of that job for you and the – it was just crazy. You could hardly even see the grass.
Phil: So it’s the kind of thing where we knew that we could eventually, over the course of a number of years, improve the soil and help the plant to the point where the grass would win over the weeds but it was just in a short term because the client didn’t like the weeds. We had to hand-pull them, right?
H: Yeah. Exactly. I guess that’s the problem with trying to find the short term solution, right?
Phil: So. Today – I mean today we are just talking about the benefits of weeds which – I don’t know if we ever got that across to hearing that but they are really – there was a reason the weeds were there which is because they were more suited for that soil than the grass.
So usually it means the soil is not in great shape. It’s – it could be any number of nutritional imbalances or water issues or compaction issues. But today we are talking about what the weeds do for the lawn or the garden, right?
H: Yes. We are. We love talking about weeds.
Phil: So why don’t you tell people something that the weeds that’s good?
H: Okay. Well. Weeds bring mineral.
Phil: Don’t lose it.
H: Weeds bring minerals and water up from deep in the soil and they make them available to microbes and neighboring plants.
Phil: Well, how you stress like every third word there.
H: Hey! There is a point to be made.
Phil: Yes. Weeds bring nutrients. I am certain weeds bring up nutrients from really deep in the soil because they have long tap roots. They are also – just a lot of them have extensive root systems. They break up hardpans and break up compaction. They are always dying back and growing, both above and below ground.
So they are adding organic matter to the soil. They are fixing– like the really cool thing is weeds will come in and if you have a calcium deficiency, there is going to weeds to come in and fix that calcium deficiency. Now it may take decades or centuries but sometimes it will be really quick but that’s what they do.
So actually we have a longer list on the Blog of what weeds do that’s good for you. But I guess we just want to tell people to embrace their weeds. We get into it – I mean I get into a lot more in the academy and then probably in 2013, we will actually talk a little bit more about what you can do to improve soil condition like on the Blog, mostly we cannot talk a lot more detail in the academy.
So the question I want to ask today is what weeds are causing you guys problems. Yeah. I just want to hear like what kinds of weeds you have in abundance. So let me know in the comments down below. Is there anything else?
H: I cannot think of anything else particularly or just so about weeds.
Phil: Okay. That’s good for today then.
Yes, weeds can be a bummer, but many gardeners don’t know there are a lot more benefits of weeds than downsides.
Besides, they’re easily controlled in the garden with mulch.
The lawn is definitely trickier. I had one client who’s front lawn had more weeds than grass.
Plant diseases and human diseases have similar causes
When I first started teaching organic gardening, I was told not to draw parallels between plant diseases and pests in the garden and human diseases, for fear of offending people.
It was one thing to teach people that plant diseases attack only unhealthy plants, but to hear most human diseases attack unhealthy people can be just too much to take.
This is especially true since most of us have someone close who has had one of the major diseases, and it could come across that I was faulting them for getting the disease.