Most pesticides or pest control techniques in organic production are aimed at preventing a problem from occurring rather than destroying hundreds of pests that are already causing damage. It is important to start organic control measures early in the growing cycle and treat regularly.
Organic control measures don't involve just spraying with so-called "organic" pesticides but they involve a series of measures that help reduce pest problems. Many involve integrating techniques that dont involve sprays with the use of organic sprays.
1. Buy clean plants at the beginning. If you buy plants that come from "dirty" greenhouses or are grown under "dirty" conditions you are inheriting a problem. Inspect the plants and buy healthy plants at the start.
2. Treat plants with organic sprays before you plant them. Get them as clean as you can before you plant. Wherever your plants were grown, you will be planting the growers problems along with your own.
3. As plants get larger, thin the canopies if they need it and remove lower leaves that are shaded. Leaves in the shade of the maturing plant do not contribute to its overall health but can and will detract from it.
|Lower leaves provide places were insects and can hide and multiply. Pesticide sprays are most effective if directed to the undersides of leaves.Lower leaves don't allow for even application of sprays and good pest control.|
|Removal of these leaves helps reduce pest problems and make it easier to spray.|
|Thinning the canopies of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants helps air ciculation and reduce disease problems. Staking tomatoes helps reduce fruit losses due to spoilage.|
4. Get more than one type of spray for your plants and use them in rotation. Using one type of spray over and over will cause a buildup of insects that are not affected by that spray. It is best to have several different types of sprays that are effective on different types of problem insects. A good selection might include an insecticidal soap, oil of some sort like Neem or horticultural oil and Bt.
5. Spray in the early morning hours or early evening hours when bees have gone home. Most organic sprays are nonselective and cannot tell a good insect from a bad one so in most cases both will be killed.
6. Keep plants healthy by fertilizing plants regularly. Usually a light application of a fertilizer once a month is enough to keep them actively growing and in production. If you are harvesting from a plant you are taking away from the plant. It is also important to "give back" to the plant in the form of small amounts of fertilizer.
7. Rotate your crops and dont plant vegetables in the same families in the same spot year after year.