There are several easy options for pest control in your garden without the use of chemicals. Some options require effort; others are simply planting recommendations that keep pests from becoming a problem in the first place.
Planting decisions can impact how many bugs will try to make your plants their home and next meal. Inter-planting different varieties is a very successful way of keeping pests at bay. By mixing the types of plants, the pests do not find a ready source of food- insects tend to be attracted to certain plants, and putting all the plants of one type is akin to serving a bug buffet. Mix the plants and you will confuse and discourage hungry pests.
Basil, an annual, is also successful in distracting bugs away from tomatoes, and they can also be used as a companion to your tomatoes. If you are planting in containers, either marigolds or basil can be planted in the same container for pest control.
Across the board, herbs seem to be useful at reducing garden bugs. Any strong scented herb can be useful, although whiteflies seem to enjoy sage. Sage will deter carrot flies and cabbage moths though. Chives are generally helpful, and when you snip some for use, the pungent odor from the freshly cut plants provide an added deterrent. So plant herbs in between other plants. In the vegetable garden, a nice mÃ?Â©lange of vegetables and herbs will give you twice the bug protection.
In your flower garden, select from the many attractive herbs to enhance the appearance of your garden while reducing harmful insects. There are many attractive varieties of basil, such as dark opal basil with deep purple leaves. Borage, with fuzzy green leaves and purple flowers, make an inviting addition to the flower garden, with the added advantage of edible flowers. In
, the flowers are used to flavor port wine. Borage will repel tomato hornworms.
The mint family also keeps the bugs away. With wonderful, aromatic varieties to choose from, the mint family offers textured, interesting leaves, pleasant, yet bug reducing aroma, plus having many uses for the leaves in your cooking and summer drinks. You can trim the mints as often as you please, as they will continue to grow all summer. They are also great container companions for patio tomatoes. Mint should be grown in containers near other plants to prevent spreading. You’ll find mint everywhere in a few years, perhaps even in your lawn, if you don’t use them in pots. Plant mint in a clay pt and tuck it among the other plants. It will thrive and get its water when the rest of the garden is watered. Mint is fairly tolerant of limited watering.
Some vegetables will help control pests too. Garlic offends Japanese beetles, vegetable weevils and spider mites. Celery deters the white moth that lays the eggs that become caterpillars, and then eat your cabbage and broccoli.
Certain flowers discourage insects that like to munch. Easy-to-grow marigolds, with their strong scent, are a great deterrent to damaging pests. Plant marigold near vegetables like tomatoes, and bugs will go elsewhere- the marigold scent overpowers the scent of the tomatoes, creating a sort of nasal blindfold, and thwarting harmful pests from sniffing out your tomatoes. An additional bonus is that inter-planted beds are more resistant to drought than conventionally planted gardens.
Planting nicotina, also known as flowering tobacco, will be useful in keeping the pests away from not the garden, but the gardener. These plants repel mosquitoes, so if your work schedule forces you to garden at dusk, these will help keep pesky mosquitoes at bay. Nicotina, which can be grown in sun or shade, has strongly fragranced flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Their star shaped flowers come in purple, pink, lime and white, and flower from summer to frost. Note- ALL parts of the nicotina plant are poisonous, and should not be used if you have small children, just as a precaution. You have to actually eat the plant for it to be dangerous.
Nasturtiums repel whiteflies and squash bugs. Perhaps nasturtiums will protect your sage from the whiteflies if you plant some nearby.
In addition, some of the herbs and flowers that deter the pests will encourage the beneficial insects that plants need to thrive and pollinate. Your garden will have a pleasing, natural look instead of looking like a commercial grower with strict rows of specific plants all lined up, stiff and unfriendly. This inter-planted garden will be healthy and inviting, with a lot less time spent on chasing down pests and lamenting over chewed plants and drooping leaves.