or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › The Chef's Garden › basic organic pest control?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

basic organic pest control?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi guys,

So I'm going to try my hand at gardening again. I've read a book on square foot gardening, and I've ordered a whole slew of heirloom seeds from Baker Creek. But I'm a beginner, and might be getting in over my head.

Is there a go-to 1st step to organic pest control? I know that different bugs require different tactics, but if you don't recognize the bug, or are a newbie: Is there a logical first step of defense? I seem to remember a couple of year's back making a diluted spray of water & dish soap, but I've forgotten the proportions.

I apologize if the question is too vague (and I suspect it is..), but I thought I would give it a try... gives me something to do, while I wait for the weather to warm up. :)

regards,

P
post #2 of 16
The secret of growing good plants, Porkchops, is to grow good soil.

Follow whatever prep method you prefer (tilling, double digging, raised beds, etc.). And amend with plenty of organic materials, compost, etc.

In addition, investigate the benefits of drip irrigation and sheet composting, which provide other protections in addition to the obvious.

Check into companion planting. Not only can you deter pests that way, you often can double dip, because many of the companion plants are herbs.

You might join some of the communities that specialize in these things. Obviously, since you've bought from Baker Creek, you're interested in heirlooms. Over a yahoogroups there's an Heirloom Growers Garden forum you might find right up your alley. Folks over there can answer any of your questions from when to plant to how to prevent/cure diseases and pests.

Finally, see if joining one or more seed saving organizations wouldn't be to your benefit. There are several to choose from, such as SSE (Seed Savers Exchange--the largest such group in the world) and AHSC (Appalachian Heirloom Seed Conservancy---a regional group dedicated to preserving the heirlooms of the mountain south).
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #3 of 16
KYHeirloomer is correct. Start your seedlings off in healthy growing medium. Have your soil tested. Many states provide soil testing services thru your county extension service or can refer you to a lab. This way you know how to amend your soil and aren't guessing.

If your soil is healthy, your plants will be healthy which is the best defense against pests and disease. The first year as a newbie might not be easy but it'll be fun. Don't get frustrated if a pest or disease sets in, it's part of the learning process. Often times by the time either does set in, it's often at a stage where it is very difficult to get rid of. Pests need to be dealt with by different methods depending on what stage of life they are in. But there's no way to tell what any season will bring.

Also check out the GardenWeb Vegetable Forum. There are plenty of members who enjoy helping others when the need arises. There is also a forum on Organic gardening there.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks!!

I have a 9' x 3.5' raised bed that was put in by the previous homeowner. I've also been composting, but haven't been super diligent about turning it, so it's breaking down somewhat slowly. It didn't occur to me to test the soil, I guess because what's in the bed seems to be topsoil. But I suspect that I should really do that.

I haven't done much research in companion planting, thanks for that suggestion. I do plan on growing some bunching onions and marigolds to try to keep the critters away. This weekend the seeds go into the flats, so maybe once I've done that, I can do a little bit more research.

I also need to figure out how to rig some mesh or a fence. We've got a lot of squirrels & raccons. Cranky, Jersey City critters.

Thanks again for your advice. Looks like I have to hit the books.... and join a couple more online commuities. :p

regards,

P
post #5 of 16
Don't sweat the turning, Porkchops. There are two general methods of composting; hot piles and cold piles.

Hot piles convert faster. And they have the over-riding advantage of destroying most weed seeds. But they're a lot of work, requiring careful attention to how additions are put in, maintaining proper moisture levels, and turning on a frequent schedule.

Cold piles are basically how God makes compost. You pile the stuff up, however it amasses, and leave it alone. This is my preferred method, cuz I'm lazy. I maintain two large bins. One is my "active" pile. The other is resting, and turning into compost. Takes about a year to do so.

The only down side, other than time, is that weed seeds are not destroyed by cold piles. So when you use the compost there is the danger (ha! More like an assuredly) of weed growth.

If we knew what you were planning to grow we could make some suggestions as to soil amending, companion plants, etc.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #6 of 16
Porkchops,
I'm wondering how your garden has gone. i see you posted in March and this is June. Hope you had success. Any do's or don't to share. I experimented with growing tomatoes in pots this year, My mother wanted tomatoes and we live in a townhome in Texas. I spoke with others who had success. I learned to start in Feb. instead of April.
post #7 of 16
diatomaceous earth is another handy insect control. Only works when dry, but if you are using a drip irrigation, that's a good start.

As to the soap, there is an insecticidal soap produced under the brand name safers. Good stuff but you have to hit the bugs directly with it.

Phil
post #8 of 16
Keeping the snails and slugs off....get hold of some nice clean sawdust/woodshavings and sprinkle it around the base of the plants those slimy little critters find irresistible. It really puts them off, I think they find it really hard traversing the sawdust. Or put down some jars of beer - they love it, end up getting tiddly and drowning in the drink...what a way to go :)
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
post #9 of 16
porkchop; Hi I was just passing by this thread and found everyones advise interesting.I'm presently using potting for my tomatoes and habeneros. I just wantaed to share w ith everyone a soap I used in Fla.when I had a pest controll co and a plant business. I'ts called Dr.Bonner peppermint soap,found in health food stores. It kills on contact and has a natural deturent from the peppermint oil. Give it a try...cookie
post #10 of 16
I discovered the effects of dish detergent on bugs quite by accident the first time i had a couple of ant highways traversing my kitchen (7th floor apartment!). I noticed they died if i put detergent on them. I assumed it emulsified their skin or something.
So without concern for proportions, and because i have a terrace with plants on it but not a huge garden, I just take an old dish detergent bottle and a little bit (couple of tbsp) of detergent and fill it with water, shake well, and squeeze it onto the plants where i see bugs. I don;t think you need any special soap or detergent. Any brand i tried worked.
Unlike insecticides, it doesn;t stay on the plants, so if bugs come back you have to respray them. But on the other hand, since it doesn;t stay on the plants, you don;t end up eating poison.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #11 of 16
siduri; The reasoon the bug dies from detergent is they breath through holes in the underside of their bodies. the soap stopps up the sphericals and they sufficate...still I recomend Dr.Bonners peppermint soap,mixed as directed for normal use (spray underside of leaves)...hope this helps and you have a pest free garden...cookie
post #12 of 16
Wow! Dr Bronners? I love that stuff and its good for everything.

Got any suggestions for cutworms? I had a bad season with them last year and have tried putting carboard around my plant stems this year. We'll see....

I also tried solarizing with black plastic. I covered the whole garden with black plastic and let it sit there all winter long. Hopefully, that will take care of some of the weed problem. I think we took it off a little too early, but again, we'll see.

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply
post #13 of 16
Cutworms. Hmmmmph!

I've never had any luck with collars. What works for me, however, is to flank the stem of the plant with wooden matchsticks, pushed into the soil about an inch.

Cutworms cannot feed unless they are in full contact with the plant, and any physical barrier stops them cold.

Solarization is usually done in the summer, and uses clear plastic. It's based on a little moisture and a whole lot of heat. The process takes about 8 weeks in most parts of the country.

Basically you want to spray the area with a garden hose. Lay down the plastic, and seal the edges all around with soil.

Keep in mind that in addition to killing perenial weed seeds it kills or chases off beneficials, like earthworms. So it can be a mixed blessing.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #14 of 16
We assume that because we grow things in an organic way that bugs will take over the whole garden.
As mentioned, crop rotation, co-planting, mechanical means and soaps are all good advice to know.

Porkchops my advice to you is plant you garden, walk thru it every single day (if not twice), get to know every plant and leaf. Like letting a fever take its course for a child, plants have also evolved defense mechanisms which require time to kick in.

I rarely panic if a plant gets a nibble here and there. Basil for example, when it gets attacked will start producing more aromatic oils to deter any subsequent attacks. A plant with a couple of nibbles, I noticed, will not get new bites on the new leaves because it protected itself. In the case of basil (and most plants), being tested by a pest actually will increase there health value and should apply to all plant foods.

Like KYH said: good healthy living soil is key. Before a nibble becomes and infestation, if your garden environment is inviting to all forms of life, predators will come to the rescue. If you have an infestation, kill and mutilate as many bugs as possible and let them rot near the plant. This will attract predators, scare the infecting bugs by the smell of death and for the mutilated, they may get weak enough to become infected with a species specific virus or bacteria that can decimate the whole infesting population for you. (some organic farming techniques use pest bug juice to spray crops to spread diseases to the pest themselves).

In the case of infestation, walking the garden at night (with a flashlight) will have a better chance of revealing the culprit.

As a gardener, expect to loose some fruits of your labour to nature.

Luc (in a zen mode)
I eat science everyday, do you?
Reply
I eat science everyday, do you?
Reply
post #15 of 16

matches as deterant

KYHierlomer ; Hi there. I just wanted to mention to you that the matches you put into the ground should be burnt. The burnt sulpher deters some pest...good plantiing...cookie :cool:
post #16 of 16
cucumber peels work for ants, i have one potted pepper plant that had attracted a colony of fire ants, i brought home from work some peels & spread them around in the pot, they hate it.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: The Chef's Garden
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › The Chef's Garden › basic organic pest control?