Saving Lives with Organic Gardening Pest Control
One definition of organic gardening is that it is growing food without the use of chemical additives. Although there are many factors involved in organic gardening, the two pillars of organic gardening are soil preparation and pest control. Whether you are an organic gardener or not, you can still use organic gardening pest control practices - and you may save lives by doing so.
By definition, pesticides are toxic. They are intended to kill living things - usually insect pests. Most pesticides are toxic to other living things, too, like people. Small people and pets are especially susceptible to these toxins. Pesticides have been linked to cancer, asthma, learning disorders, birth defects, central nervous system toxicity and many other illnesses. Organic gardening pest control practices do not use toxic pesticides. This is important because of the amount of exposure we have to pesticides in our environment. No matter how careful you are, you have been exposed to pesticides, possibly in toxic amounts. All water sources in the world are now contaminated with pesticides.
Pesticides don't go away; they are concentrated as they move up the food chain. The pesticides in water sources are absorbed into water plants, which are eaten by fish. The pesticides aren't excreted by the fish, but are absorbed into their bodies, which are eaten by people. The same scenario works itself out with land plants and animals, as pesticides have been absorbed into soil, too.
Organic gardening pest control practices stops the distribution of these toxic chemicals and provides safer food sources for us. As more people adopt organic gardening pest control practices, we may eventually be able to eliminate world-wide pesticide contamination.
Least Toxic First: Companion Planting
Organic gardening pest control always starts with the least toxic solution. Companion planting can keep pests from invading your garden in the first place. Some plants keep bugs away and planting them next to your tasty plants is a good idea. Garlic, onions and marigolds are stinky plants that repel bugs. You can plant them in a border around your garden, too, to mask the smell of your other vegetables.
Step Two: Remove the Bugs
The next step is to remove pests when you find them. Remember that not all bugs are pests - you only need to remove the ones who are enjoying your vegetables and/or flowers. Go out early in the morning or late in the evening when it's cool, and remove any tomato hookworms, potato bugs, Japanese beetles, slugs or other insect pests that you find. Another way to remove bugs is to spray the plants with the hose and wash the critters off.
Step Three: Predator Bugs
There are bugs who eat bugs, and they are a wonderful organic gardening pest control. Ladybugs, lacewings and praying mantises are all garden-friendly bugs. You can buy them at the garden store and release them into your garden and they will take care of aphids, mites and many other pests. Most spiders are bug-eaters, too, and will take care of many flying insects for you. If you see a nice barn spider web in your garden, leave it be and let the spider work for you.
Step Four: Other Controls
There are organic pesticides. They are usually made from plant derivatives or minerals. When you get to step four, you have to decide how important it is to control the remaining pests. You may choose to live with them rather than use something that is organic, but more toxic than you want to expose your food to.
Soap often works to get rid of garden pests. You can buy insecticidal soap, or make your own by adding a few drops of liquid dish soap to a cup of water. Spray it on the plants, and then rinse off. This works great on aphids and thrips.
You can tell how toxic an organic gardening pest control is by checking for a warning label. If there is no label, the substance is non-toxic. If the label says, "caution," it is mildly toxic. "Warning" on the label means it is moderately toxic, and "danger" means the substance is very toxic. Organic gardening pest controls rarely have a "danger" warning on them.
Always apply organic gardening pest control products exactly as the label directs to minimize exposure. Use these organic gardening pest control methods - whether you are an organic gardener or not - to minimize everybody's exposure to toxic pesticides.