Ingredients

Non-Toxic Solutions

One of the most helpful is an insecticidal soap solution that you mix with water by the gallon and you spray it on your plants. The solution clogs up the pores and will kill many of the smaller insects such as aphids and mites. It also helps with many of the smaller beetles. You can  make your own insecticidal soap by mixing 5 tablespoons of liquid soap into one gallon of water. (it is  recommended that you use soap instead of detergent.) Simply apply as you would the store bought version with a spray bottle, using it about every 10 days. Remember that to be effective, the soap must come in contact with the insects.

I usually use the soap in combination with something called Pyrethin, a garden insect spray that is usually mixed with a soap solution or a low grade, organic solvent. Pyrethrin is a natural insecticide that is made from the extracts of the Chrysanthemum flower. It has been used to control pests for over a century and is generally considered quite safe to your pets and other mammals. Pyrethrin helps to control aphids, beetles, wetworm, and leafhoppers. I use it once a week until I see no signs of insects and then stop using it.

I often come up to my garden after there has been a lot of rain and see large holes in my lettuce leaves. This is an indication that there are slugs in my garden. To control slugs and snails you will have to resort to a granular iron sulfate preparation. After you spread it around the leaves the slugs will eat it and die, but there is no worry about your pets eating this because it is harmless to them. There is no significant residue and when you take in your fresh vegetables and wash them it completely disappears.

Diseases

In addition to insects, we have to control diseases as well. It does us no good to protect them from insects only to have plants succumb to blight and other common diseases. I like to use a copper compound fungicide to help my tomato and bean plants avoid the early to late blight, powdery mildew, black spot and bean rust.

It is a liquid preparation of copper sulfate that you mix with water and spray onto the plant. It sticks to the leaves and gets into the disease organisms and kills them. It also works well with fruits and roses. There are sulfur preparations that work as well as this.

The Good Guy Insects

Increasingly garden centers and seed companies are selling “good insects” that you can populate your garden with in order to help control the “bad guys.” They either eat the eggs of the bad insects, therefore preventing them from getting out of control, or the insects themselves.

The two most popular are ladybugs or the famous praying mantis but include others as well such as lacewings, tiger beetles and ground beetles.  Learn to recognize these good insects and when you see them in your garden treat them like the good friends that they are. They are in fact your best defense against the bad guys.

Here are a few details on the most common “good guys” and how to attract them:

Ladybugs: Ladybugs eat aphids, mites, whiteflies and scale. You can attract them to your garden by planting members of the daisy family, tansy or yarrow. Ladybugs are available from catalogues online.

Praying Mantis: The praying mantis has an appetite for most of your garden pests. When you buy the eggs you set them out in the garden where they hatch and quickly grow to adult size.

Lacewings: Lacewings are enthusiastic eaters of aphids, and their larva eat aphids and other varieties of other insect pests as well. They are attracted to "composite" flowers, such as yarrow, goldenrod, black-eyed Susan’s and asters. They can also be purchased and released directly into your garden.

Directions

We used to automatically control unwanted insects & plant diseases with a can, bottle or package of chemical insecticides and fungicides. Now that we know that this can be a danger to the environment and perhaps us, we can prevent and control insects without resorting to these solutions. It gives me peace of mind knowing that I can protect myself, my family and my pets from any exposure to chemicals and eat my fresh grown vegetables too.

There are many choices for non-chemical alternatives and you can get books and visit websites full of solutions. I like to use remedies for insects and plant diseases that are as close to natural as possible, but also have been proven effective. Here is what I am using.
Insect Control
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