If you intend to grow plants in the city, your garden space might be limited to a tiny backyard, containers, the balcony and other small areas in your property. Still, that shouldn't stop you from growing your food and beautiful flowers, unless of course if you're afraid of insects attacking your plants.
Every gardener understands the frustration of pest infestations. The dotted leaves, weak stems and the overall unhealthy state of your plants tell you that your small garden is under pest attack. Your initial reaction is probably to get a pesticide and spray the bugs away. But then, would you still want to eat your vegetables after exposing them to chemicals?
Fortunately, you don't have to resort to a synthetic-based solution to combat infestations in your urban garden. There are a couple of natural ways to prevent pests from attacking your greenery, the natural way.
The first step towards minimizing, if not eliminating pest attacks in your garden is to be smart with your plant choices in the first place. Some plants are hardy to the weather in your local area and are naturally resistant to pests. Do your research or ask the local gardening community about which varieties are best to grow in your locality.
Different kinds of pests run around the urban areas, and your garden can get prone to the attacks if the neighboring yards already have them. Protect your healthy plants by setting up physical barriers that can deter the entry of pests from entering your garden. For instance, an anti-insect greenhouse netting can protect your favorite veggies from damages caused by aphids, mites and leaf miners.
If you want to keep things as natural as possible and do as little damage, then you must exert some effort picking off the pests! For instance, the rosemary beetle can eat into the foliage of herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and sage. To control these pests, you need to inspect your herbs every few days and pick and kill the beetles one by one.
It's important to understand that insects vary in design and function in the ecosystem. Some insects can harm your plants; hence, we call them pests. However, there are types of insects that can protect your garden against pests' attacks. The "good bugs" are the pests' natural nemesis and are considered by farmers and gardeners as one of the best ways to naturally manage infestations.
Some of the best beneficial insects you'd welcome in your urban garden are ladybugs, aphid parasites and predators, Bumblebee, lacewing larvae and fungus gnat predator. It's crucial to be able to spot a good bug from a bad one, so you don't accidentally kill beneficial insects by mistake. Know your enemies and keep your friends close.
Now that you know what the good bugs are, the next thing you need to do is to keep them in your garden. There are a couple of herbs and plants, you can plant in your garden, along with your fruits and vegetables, so that the beneficial insects stay there. Most of these insects are attracted to herbs like dill, fennel, and coriander, while ladybugs are particularly easy to draw with marigolds. The herbs are there for two good reasons: to have easy access to them for personal consumption and to keep the pests at bay.
It's also wise to plant veggies alongside certain herbs, not just because these herbs attract the good bugs, but because they're naturally built to deter pests. Most of these herbs contain phenolic and essential oils that prevent pests from approaching your plants. Some herbs also have essential oils don't just drive away pests; they even kill the harmful insects.
Companion planting is an excellent practice for keeping your veggies in healthy condition. For instance, you can protect your cabbages and tomatoes from moth and worms by planting garlic nearby. Moths and fleas hate the smell of lavender and marigold can defend your beans and asparagus from harmful beetles. In general, most vegetables will benefit from the defense that Rosemary, Oregano, Basil, and Chives have to offer.
Plants are like humans. The sicker you feel, the more prone you get to other kinds of ailments. So if your plants are unhealthy, to begin with, their defense mechanism against pests also fails to protect them. With that said, you need to keep your plants healthy regardless of whether there's a possible infestation or not. You want to prevent that possibility from happening and minimize the damage if it's already there.
Your plants need to get enough sunshine and water. You may need to cover them during extreme weather conditions and feed their soils with mulch and organic matter. The more you show some love to your urban garden, the more resistant your plants become to most pests.
Sometimes, your limited knowledge can leave you wondering whether you're doing the right thing or not for your garden. You may know a few gardening tricks here and there, but sometimes, you also need to call a professional to help you figure things out.
A professional gardener or Houston landscaping expert can lend you an expert muscle for your garden and wisdom to make your garden more than survive, but importantly, thrive. Call the experts before things get out of hand, and you have nothing left after getting your hands dirty tending to your garden.
Whether you're a new or seasoned city gardener, it's wise to expect that pests will come at some point or the other in your plants' life. Pests are one of nature's way of maintaining check and balance. However, that also doesn't mean that you should surrender your plants just like that.
You can keep your small garden or yard free from pests through natural methods which will ensure that your plants are safe to consume. Get to know as much as possible about the local pests that thrive in your garden and put up preventive measures before your plants suffer from fatal damage.
Felix Gilstrap is a blogger and a regular contributor to https://houstonlandscapingsource.com. He is continuously writing landscaping and gardening tips, advice, hacks, and other useful information.