Pests in your garden are annoying… especially when they damage your plants. Here are a few ways to keep those buggers away without using unpleasant pesticides.

Keeping pests out of your garden can be a challenge, especially if you want to avoid using pesticides that endanger the environment and your health. Fortunately, there are several effective natural methods to help keep your garden free of unwanted pests.

Keep Your Garden Clean

A clean garden free of decay and rotting vegetation is less likely to attract pests. Regular removal of dead leaves, stems, or fallen fruit keeps your garden tidy and less enticing to critters.

Practice Companion Planting

When sowed next to each other, some pairs of plants offer a variety of mutual benefits – including pest control. For example, planting garlic near potatoes keeps aphids away, while basil planted near tomatoes repels flies and mosquitoes.

Attract Natural Predators

Some pests have natural predators, such as ladybugs, that control their populations. Attract these predators to your garden by planting delectable flowers and herbs, such as dill and fennel.

Set Up Physical Barriers

Adding barriers such as row covers, netting, and screens around your garden can prevent pests from reaching your plants. It’s important to note that this should only be used as a preventative measure, because you risk trapping existing critters inside to lay eggs and spark an infestation.

Mix Up a Soapy Spray

If you notice an aphid infestation, apply a homemade spray to your plants made from dish soap (without bleach), water, and a bit of vegetable oil. These sprays smother pests and interrupt their life cycle without harming your plants.

Practice Crop Rotation

Pests and diseases can build up in the soil when plants are grown in the same areas year after year. By rotating the placement of your crops each season, pests and diseases lose their ability to affect your plants. It’s recommended to move your crops so they do not return to their original location for at least three to four years.

Clean and Remove Problem Plants

If your plants are consistently attacked by pests, pick them off physically and wash the leaves with a gentle soap and water mixture. If that doesn’t work, the best solution may be removing the problem plants from your garden altogether.

Add Nutrients to Your Soil

When plants are healthy and strong, they’re naturally more resistant to harm from pests. The key to growing healthy plants is to give them a strong foundation by making sure your soil is in good condition. Adding compost and other organic materials to your soil provides valuable nutrients to help your plants thrive in the long run.

For more gardening tips and tricks, stop by our greenhouse this spring and talk to one of our expert growers! In the meantime, check out Quick and Easy Tips for Starting a Vegetable Garden and The Importance of Plant Maintenance.

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