Instead of direct seeding, planting crops that were started in pots/trays means they’ve built up some strength to fight back against predators, or at least can handle some feeding. If you don’t want to start the transplants from seed yourself, you can buy starts from a garden center or farmer’s market.
2. Crop Rotation
Insects that eat tomatoes, for example, will overwinter where the tomatoes were planted this year, so if you can move the crop to a different garden next year, that will make it more work for the insects to find the tomatoes.
3. Companion Planting/Intercropping
Planting certain species together can help reduce pests. For example, planting cucumber with corn and broccoli helps deter cucumber beetles. My garden beds have at least 10 plants all in very close proximity.
Organic mulches such as straw or leaves help control predators through multiple means. Partially they just improve soil and plant health and conserve water, but they also provide homes for the predators of pests.
So all of those are common tips you may have heard before. They’re often repeated because they’re proven.
I especially like the last two because they’re all about creating more of a natural ecosystem that hosts a diverse array of plants and beneficial insect species.
That’s one key to keeping pests in check – to provide habitat, food and water for the insects that eat those pests.
But there’s one thing that’s missing in most of the information you’ll read about organic pest control. And that is…
5. Creating Health
The way to get rid of pests forever is to create healthy soil and healthy plants. It sounds like a boring cliche, but there’s strong science behind it.
The reason creating health works is because insect pests don’t want to eat healthy plants. In fact, they can’t. They don’t have the enzymes necessary to break down what we would call a nutritionally balanced plant. They evolved differently. They go for plants that are sick.
The reason I never have to spray any pesticide in my garden, including organic or homemade pesticides, is because I really try to help make my plants as healthy as possible.
So how do you create health in your organic garden? Use quality compost, organic mulches such as leaves and straw, organic fertilizers such as kelp and sea minerals, quality seeds and plants, proper watering, good design, and ultimately dozens of other techniques that make for a healthy garden.
It can take a few years to get it down, but the plant predators decrease every year until they’re mostly gone for good.