Organic Gardening – Using a Commercial Pesticide As a Last Resort
An organic garden can be an exciting adventure but it involves a lot of hard work. If you are successful, you will be rewarded with healthy fruits and vegetables for all of your dedication. The last thing a gardener wants is to discover that insects are eating away at the fruits of their labor.
Maintaining the delicate balance of soil, water, plants and beneficial insects in your organic garden’s ecosystem is the hard part but it is the best way to keep your plants healthy and free from insect damage without the need for additional chemicals or fertilizers.
When that balance is upset and insects become a problem, the need may arise for a pesticide. Choosing to even use a pesticide is a hard decision for most organic gardeners. It goes against every belief you had about your garden. It was supposed to be a chemical-free environment. Why would I actually put chemicals INTO my garden? When considering the alternative of just letting harmful insects destroy their hard work, most gardeners choose to use a pesticide.
Given the choice of a homemade remedy or a commercial repellent, the safer bet for the organic gardener is, of course, the homemade variety. In the event a homemade treatment is not effective and you decide to proceed with a commercial pesticide, you should be aware of several issues.
Even though a commercial pesticide may be labeled “natural” or “organic”, it does not mean the product is completely free of harmful ingredients. If you want a truly chemical-free organic garden, these products should be avoided and you should rely only on prevention and homemade remedies with common kitchen ingredients.
“Natural” or “organic” pesticides contain chemicals that are derived from botanical (plant) or mineral (animal) sources. These chemicals may still be toxic, but they break down more rapidly and are much safer than other man-made chemicals. One way to gauge how “safe” an organic pesticide is would be to review the label and look for an EPA approval rating.
When choosing organic gardening pesticides, also consider these facts:
– Products containing “sabadilla” are harmful to bees and should be avoided. - Products containing copper will stunt plant growth and should be used sparingly. - Products containing sulfur or lime should not be used if any oil-based product has also been used in the last month. - Organic soaps and oils are effective against soft bodied insects (ie aphids..). Water the plants before applying and do not apply in full sun.
When using any pesticide, it is important to always observe pesticide safety and follow these rules.
1. Read all labels carefully before using any product. 2. Observe and follow all directions and restrictions on labels. 3. Always store the product in the original container. 4. Keep all pesticides in a locked cabinet and out of reach of children! 5. Use recommended amounts of pesticides. 6. Dispose of empty containers per pesticide instructions.
Considering all of these factors, issues and rules may seem a bit overwhelming at first. But in order to comply with the original objective of growing an organic garden, it is especially important to not take the use of any pesticides lightly.
In the end, your consideration for your garden will reward you with the freshest, healthiest produce on earth. Please also never forget one of the most important things about your garden. You planted it because gardening is fun.
Visit the author’s comprehensive article, Organic Gardening Pesticides for more detailed information about prevention and the use of both homemade and commercially-available pesticides.
Find More Gardening Articles