Tactics to control pests without using harsh chemicals vary. Here are just a few natural alternatives to consider:
• In the vegetable garden, prevention is the key word in controlling pests. That means weeding out weak plants, laying down mulch, and rotating crops. Do your watering in the morning, which gives the plants time to dry (wet leaves encourage fungus and insect activity).
• Weed the garden regularly since pests thrive in weedy environments. Also key is the soil, which should be well-composted and rich in nutrients. This encourages robust plant growth, which can diminish pests. Also, wash garden tools after use in an infested area. This will prevent spreading any diseases.
• Plant Queen’s Anne Lace and most varieties of daisies around the house and garden. These flowers attract ladybugs as well as brachonids, chalcids, and ichneumon wasps. The latter group controls harmful, leaf-eating caterpillars while ladybugs tackle aphids, mites, and whiteflies. The most effective pest controller is the praying mantis, which eats nearly all of the damaging pests in a garden. Check online to find out where to buy mantis eggs to plant in the spring.
• To control slugs, pour beer into a small container or shallow jar. The slugs are attracted to the beer, and will drown in it. Fresh coffee grounds sprinkled between plants also deters slugs.
• To control ants inside the house, eliminate food sources such as crumbs on counters and in cupboards. Also try a solution of peppermint toothpaste (one tablespoon), dish soap (one tablespoon) and water (one quart) in a spray bottle. Spray areas such as the corners of cupboards and behind refrigerators and other appliances to deter ants and other pests.
Sources: pestwall.com, wikihow.com, eartheasy.com