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How to Keep Pests Away from Plants - the natural way

Fri 10 May 2013

Spring brings new growth in the garden, but unfortunately, pests emerge with the good weather, too. I've already noticed aphids on my rose plants, along with slugs and snails, that I know will wreak havoc on the plants if I don't start tackling them now. There are lots of highly effective ways of dealing with garden pests that stay on the natural, organic side of things; methods that have simply been trusted by gardeners and farmers for centuries. I'm going to look at some easy and effective garden pest control methods here:

Neem Oil

Made from an Indian plant, neem oil is an ancient, tried and trusted remedy that people from the subcontinent rely on to repel insects from aphids to pet fleas and even headlice. Insects cannot stand neem and this is a highly effective deterrent that will pack a powerful punch against slugs and aphids.

Source: Flickr

Dealing with caterpillars

Caterpillars require a measured approach as they do become the gardener's friend once they've metamorphosed into butterflies. Unfortunately during the larval stage they are the opposite, chomping through many varieties of leaves. The most pragmatic way to deal with caterpillars seems to be daily manual removal from the stems and bases of plants.

Predator-friendly plants

Certain plants attract the kind of predators we actually want in our gardens - that is those which prey on garden pests. Many plants attract ladybirds, who famously eat aphids. The best varieties are dill, yarrow, and fennel. Fennel and dill are of course handy in the kitchen, too.

Bird feeders and bird baths will attract our feathered friends to take care of snails and slugs. Even better, a pond will attract not just birds, but also frogs, toads, and bats, all of which will benefit from a welcoming habitat and provide excellent pest control for your garden.

This kind of strategic planting and garden planning is all about creating a self-regulating ecosystem where certain plants and insects help each other while preventing infestations of certain insects. This way you can just let your garden do it's thing, and avoid overuse of pesticides.

Planting for pest control

In addition to choosing predator-friendly plants, we can intersperse other plantings with varieties that actually repel pests.

Marigolds are an excellent choice to add amongst tomato plants, as they deter whiteflies. The strong fragrance of the lavender plant repels mosquitoes and fleas. Clover growing around cabbages will prevent aphids and worms, as will the fragrant and useful herb borage.

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Written by Penny Tristram