Gardening and pesticides

This is my first spring in a house for quite some years, so I was very excited about starting a proper garden. I have have several planters in past years where my attempts to grow squash and tomatoes turned out laughable products, but now I can give my plants all the room they need. With more plants, however, seems to come more pests. Whenever I go anywhere, whether it be to Lowe’s or the internet, chemical pesticides are touted as the obvious and easy choice for ‘pests’. My problem with most pesticides are that:

-Most are broad spectrum and can kill both the ‘bad’ guys and the good guys. I would like to keep my lady bugs and earthworms alive please!

-They are chemicals. So that means I am basically spraying chemicals designed to kill living things all over my garden with plans to eat this food later. Somehow this doesn’t seem like a solid idea.

I have done quite a bit of research to find alternatives to my neighbor’s suggestion of soaking the ground in diesel fuel and it turns out that there are a number of options that I quite like.

1) Handpicking- this obviously wouldn’t work for larger gardens, but from what I read it is pretty unbeatable!

2) Barriers and Traps- there are a number of options within this one, some that can even be made at home.

3) Companion planting- some plants naturally repel insects and can be planted among other crops. One such option is garlic… I do love me some garlic.

4) Crop Rotation- rotating where you plant certain types of crops from year to year will help reduce the chance of infestation.

5) Plant sacrifice- essentially you place plants near your crop that certain pests will find tastier than the plant you are trying to protect. For example, maggots prefer radishes over tomatoes. Plant some radishes among your tomatoes and if maggots infest your garden they will go for the radish, which you can then remove and dispose of along with your unwanted guests.

6) Diversity- planting crops throughout the garden instead of in a straight line can help reduce plant loss if infestation occurs. Not having all of the same plants clumped together makes it harder for pests to move from plant to plant.

Happy gardening!

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