Today we will wrap up this short series on organic pest control by discussing a few pests that are specific to certain plant types, and what you can do about them. (We’ll also provide a few specific product recommendations.)
Beside those most common pests which attack many kinds of plants, there are special pests for specific plants. Beans have pests of their own; so have potatoes and cabbages. In fact, the vegetable garden has many inhabitants. In the flower garden lice are very bothersome, the cutworm and the slug have a good time there, too, and ants often get very numerous as the season advances. But for real discouraging insect troubles the vegetable garden takes the prize. (Although, if we were going into fruit to any extent, perhaps the vegetable garden would have to take second place to the fruit garden.)
Neem oil is the cabbage worms’ worst enemy, so if you spray them with it, they will be out of your garden in a jiffy. You can usually determine whether cabbage worms are in the garden if you find small green caterpillars and holes on the leaves of your plants. You can also pick them by hand if you are more courageous or if you don’t have neem oil handy at the time of infestation. (Try Green Light Organic Neem Concentrate.)
A common pest in the vegetable garden is the tomato hornworm. This is a large yellowish or greenish striped worm with a spiked horn on its tail. Tomato hornworms strip the leaves from the plants, and also eat the young fruit. They are usually the same color as the plant, but are generally easy to spot as they are large, so if you see a lot of damage, look for these. Since they are large and usually there are only a couple of them (at first), you can usually pick these by hand and dispose of them quickly.
A great, light green caterpillar is found on celery. This caterpillar may be told by the black bands, one on each ring or segment of its body.
The squash bug may be told by its brown body, which is somewhat flat and diamond-shaped, and by the disagreeable odor it makes when disturbed or killed. The potato bug is another fellow to look out for. It is a beetle with yellow and black stripes down its crusty back. The little green cabbage worm is a perfect nuisance. It is a small caterpillar and smaller than the tomato worm. These are perhaps the most common of garden pests.
Diatomaceous earth (a fine powder made of ground fossils) is an organic substance which may work well for controlling some of these. This non-toxic powder may be sprinkled on and around plants, and is safe around pets. It works via mechanical means — it gets between the grooves of an insect’s body (or skin), and dessicates it rather quickly. However, it washes off easily, so will need to be re-applied after every rain, or until the problem is gone. (Be sure when using this that you wear gloves and avoid breathing it or getting it in your eyes; although it is non-toxic, it is highly abrasive, and may cause irritation or drying of the skin.) (Look for Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. You may also want to check out GOING GREEN USING DIATOMACEOUS EARTH HOW-TO TIPS: An Easy Guide Book Using A Safer Alternative, Natural Silica Mineral, Food Grade Insecticide for practical consumer tips, recipes, and methods.)
There are many other kinds of pests that you can control in your garden given the right handy tools and knowledge on how to best eliminate them from your organic garden. For some great tips and recommendations, check out www.newholisticliving.com/sustainablegardening.html
And be sure to check back next week for our next post — we will cover some of the benefits of eating organically raised vegetables. Yummy!