Organic Gardening: Natural Pest Repellents

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We’re hearing a lot these days about the health hazards found in our food, so the thought of planting an organic garden at home may be more tempting than ever. By tending your own garden, you can control what you plant and how it’s raised, knowing that the fresh produce you bring to your table is as clean as it can be.

To discourage pests, use non-toxic products containing pyrethrum or neem. Pyrethrum is a mixture of insecticidal compounds found in types of African chrysanthemums, and it controls aphids, whiteflies, stinkbugs and mites. You should be able to find pyrethrum products at your local nursery (some will say they contain “pyrethrins”). Check labels carefully to make sure you choose the product intended for the crops you’re growing or the pests you’re trying to eliminate.

Neem comes from the seeds and leaves of the Neem tree, Azadirachta indica, which is native to India. The compounds it contains (such as azadirachtin) acts as an insect repellent. Neem is non-toxic to animals and humans, and bee-friendly. Although neem products are somewhat more expensive than most synthetic pesticides, they pay off in the long run.

In addition to natural pesticides, consider adding beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantis to your garden. Another tip is to ask your local nursery about soap you can spray on plants to kill insects. And you can always pick insects off mechanically or wash them off with forceful streams of water.

 

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