Summary: Pesticides are necessary evils. No one wants to ruin the environment, but there is no point in trying to plant a garden if you're going to let the bugs take over. So, you have to get rid of the pesky bugs in the garden somehow. Organic pesticides are quickly becoming a popular option and there are many possibilities for those who want to go organic.
What to do! What to do! You want to be an environmental do-gooder by avoiding toxic pesticides, but how do know what is best? Organic pesticides either kill or repel pests. Many organic pesticides are made from plants and they are only harmful to pests and not beneficial insects or other creatures. There are many all-natural products available on the Internet, but they are also appearing more and more at local garden centers. Be sure to check to make certain the pesticides are certified as "all natural" per their claims.
An alternate solution is to buy a bunch of 'good bugs' like lady bugs or praying mantis. Spread them around your garden and they will feast on the pests that you are trying to eliminate. You can find these insects at some garden supply stores or on-line. The trick is convincing insects to stay in your garden and not leave for better pastures.
You could try companion planting and I don't mean planting with your spouse or best friend. What I mean is some plants can eliminate the bugs of another, nearby plant. Radish plants, for example, can discourage cucumber beetles. Herbs like mint will scare off aphids, ants, flea beetles, and cabbage worms. Marigolds, petunias, and geraniums can even get rid of pesky bugs, while adding beauty and color to your garden. Garlic can rid your flowerbeds of aphids and Japanese beetles.
Bacterial agents, which can be found in stores with names like Dipel, Condor, and Biotrol, kill leaf-eating caterpillars. When these powder or liquid products are applied to the underside of leaves where caterpillars like to feed, it can be a quick fix to a major problem.
But, why is this so important? Why not just use chemicals? The answer is simple. Misuse of chemical pesticides may not only be harmful to the environment, but they can be harmful to humans. Washing and rinsing can only reduce the amount of chemicals on your fruits and vegetables. No matter what, the chemical it is still there, inside. Even peeling cannot get rid of all the chemicals. That is why it is vitally important that we consider using natural alternatives.
Do organic pesticides really work? They sure do! When matched up with the appropriate insects, organic pesticides kill just as effectively as chemical products. So, organic pesticides not only keep your plants and produce free of chemicals, they help the environment, too. What more could you want? So, get with the program. Go green with organic pesticides!
Many pesticides can be made with ingredients you already have. Here are some quick and easy recipes that you can make up yourself:
Garlic, hot pepper, onion, and cayenne sprinkled or sprayed on leaves can get rid of aphids and other leaf-eating pests.
Add a little mild dishwashing liquid (or a natural soap) to water and spray leaf-eating pests directly to quickly dispose of them. Be careful not to use too much on your produce plants, however, because it can hinder growth.
Salt water works well when fighting cabbage worms or spider mites. Again, be careful on which plants you intend to spray the salt mixture.
Squirt lemon juice on the ground where you have seen ants to keep them away. Citrus oil sprays can be very helpful in getting rid of mosquitoes and aphids, too. But, be careful not to use more than 2 ounces of orange oil in a gallon of water or it can burn your plants. It might also kill beneficial insects, so only use if the insects are getting out of control.
As gross as it sounds, blending some of the insects with water and putting it in a dish in your garden or flowerbed can repel those insects. So, if you can stomach this one, give it a try.
If you find any insects crawling around, you can kill cabbage worms with flour and slugs with salt.
It is best to apply the sprays to leaves during morning or evening hours when the sun is not shining directly upon them. This will avoid scorching the leaves.
Charts are available on various websites that detail which methods and products work for which insects.