General Non-Fiction posted January 17, 2014


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Don't rely on toxic chemicals learn to live with nature

Don't let pests dampen your spirit

by Sylvia Page

No one wants insects in their gardens, they are simply unwanted and uninvited guests that swallow up the goodness of your hard labour. Whether you are a home gardener or a farmer you share the same sentiments.

Insects can cause havoc in any garden and to know how to control them without applying harmful pesticides is any gardeners wish.

Practicing organic gardening is one natural way to control insects from invading your garden. Organic gardeners don't use dangerous pesticides. They practice many cheap and useful ways which are easy and beneficial in protecting mother earth.

Unfortunately there is not much freely available information to educate the home gardener and the commercial farmer on alternate ways to control pests other than using harmful pesticides that cause more damage than good in the process of eliminating pests.

Seeking out the 'quick fix' seems to be the choice of many, little realising the damage that is caused to the environment and pollution of the soil. Where did you hear of illnesses caused by pesticide control in days prior to the haphazard use of these harmful chemical fixes?

It is time we became more aware of what damages the indiscriminate use of pesticides does to the soil and in unsystematically eradicating beneficial species that co-habits our gardens, not to mention the health related hazards that harmfully affects children and people.

Creating an organic garden
Let's protect our soil and bring back beneficial insects to our environment. Not all insects are harmful.

Bees are natural pollinators; encourage them with brightly coloured flowering plants.

While the lady bug feeds on a countless amount of unwanted insects, sap sucking and unsightly aphids among them, the praying mantis is also a not to be forgotten friend of the farmer, they too are predators who eat unwanted insects. Recognise the larval stage of the lady bug. These are little insects that look like little alligators. Let them be as they will feed on the harmful bugs that ruin your plants and soil and grow to be the 'lucky' insect... the lady bug.

Others worthy of mention are the preying mantis and the Green Lacewings [Chrysoperla carnea]. These are all beneficial insects that feed on insects such as aphids and other insects that feed on your plants.

Don't forget the bird bath! Birds eat insects! Encourage them; they love to feed on insects. By creating the right environment you will find you are creating an eco balance within your space.

The commercial gardening community have come to strongly rely on pesticides that large pesticide manufacturing conglomerates sell to them. These companies spend a colossal sum on advertising their products in a very persuasive manner to appeal to the farmer.

Over time, unwanted insects have developed a strong resistance to these pesticides resulting in larger and stronger doses being required to be applied to achieve the desired effect. What this means is, it costs much more than before, more and more poisons enter the food chain and the evolution of a pesticide resistant bug.

Further more, birds that feed on these insects are affected too as the poisons ingested by the insects have an adverse effect on them. Their eggshells get thinner and most often cannot hold the weight of the birds when they sit on them to hatch. This puts an end to the next generation of birds, if they have not already disappeared from our planet.

Little wonder,  we as humans have to deal with numerous illnesses that weren't present before all this happened. Our food is coated with poisons that should not be there in the first place.

A natural way to dispel insects is, by applying a solution of tobacco juice and soapy water. One way to make this, is to pick up a whole dried leaf, these are sold at the weekly village 'pola'. Boil this leaf in two litres of water and reduce it to a concentrate of one litre.

If these leaves are hard to find, breaking up a few cigarettes and boiling them in the same manner, produces the same result. Strain the concentrate and bottle when cool enough to handle. Measure one tablespoon of this concentrate and add to a litre of soapy water and spray the affected areas. This is a very effective way to get rid of mealy bugs.

Mealy bugs are carried on the feet of ants. Get rid of ants and there won't be mealy bugs to get rid off.

Another very effective natural pesticide is derived from the Margosa seed, [Azadirachta indica] commonly called Kohomba in Sri Lanka and Neem in India. Crush the seeds by pounding them in a mortar and soak them overnight. Using the same water, boil, till the liquid is reduced in half. Strain the concentrate and bottle for storage. Use in the same manner as you did the tobacco concentrate, mixed in a soapy solution of water. We used this on cabbages and were rewarded with a blemish free crop of cabbages sans the poisons that is sprayed to keep them free of insect attack.

Remember, that whatever is sprayed on vegetables, should be stopped completely at least a fortnight before harvest.

Barrier protection can keep away flying insects. Cover the plot with thin netting, one that will allow sunlight, as most vegetables require full sun for their growth.

Planting onions, garlic and marigolds, keep away many different harmful species that can ruin your crop, among them is the bean fly that is attracted by blue flowers. Another useful plant is the perennial sunflower. This can be grown from cuttings and planted in hedgerows and kept at chest level. Its trimmings are a useful biomass for mulching. Mulching improves soil textures. The flowers attract birds all year round. It is feed for cattle and a source of nitrogen to the soil.

Plant tobacco around the garden, it's another good source to keep away slugs and aphids. Slugs and snails can be a nuisance, destroying seedlings, all in one night.

Reserve left over beer that's remaining in beer mugs and half used bottles, it is a good and very effective snail bait. Make snail traps by burying small containers in level with the soil and fill up with left over beer. Snails are attracted by the smell of beer. They virtually commit suicide by drowning!

A vigorous and balanced ecosystem can be achieved, simply by practising natural pest control, which the indiscriminate use of pesticide won't do. Constant use of pesticides causes adverse effects on the soil.

To get rid of the accumulation of pesticide residues, the land has to be left fallow and unproductive for several years. However, the leaching of the soil of these chemicals can be speeded up by the addition of organic matter which will simply dilute the concentration over constant applications of mulch. Very soon you will notice the soil is improved with the appearance of earth worms. Earth worms are needed to aerate the soil.

There's no safer pest control than using the age old natural methods in maintaining a healthy organic garden. What's more rewarding than consuming a poison free meal and this should not be the only reason, be kind to yourself, your family and the environment, start by understanding the needs of the environment and your native habitat and equip yourself with as much knowledge on the subject.
 


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