Designing and implementing an organic integrated pest management (IPM) solution is the best way to keep your garden from having issues. The first aspect of designing a proper organic IPM is ensuring you have a proper organic ecosystem.
Maintaining a proper ecosystem in the organic garden is of the utmost importance. Utilizing permaculture practices, the ecological system of any indoor or outdoor garden is predicated by the understanding of how ‘open systems’ work.
Quite simply, the basis of an open system is that all living organisms maintain their complex functions and systems through continuous exchanges of energies and materials with their environment. The living organism is constantly ‘building up’ more complex substances than what it feeds on, creating a more and more complex system. This is what we are trying to recapture with organic ecosystems.
Utilizing no-till, organic living soils is the first step. Having proper ventilation, filtration, air movement and humidity is the second step.
Generally, you wish plants to have wind resistance, temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, filtration if indoors, and humidity around 40-60%.
If you do have issues with thrips, spider mites, fungus gnats, aphids, etc., here are a few organic tools to use to eliminate your problem pests.
Beneficial nematodes are microscopic organisms that you root drench your soil with. They are effective in combating aphids/fungus gnats/eggs/thrips in the soil. To use, purchase a package of BN and add into water. Drench soil completely. Allow 1-2 weeks time to see a change.
Ladybugs are great for killing fungus gnats and mites. They prefer fungus gnats over mites, but will begin eating mites once all other food sources are gone. Allow up to a month of Ladybug use before seeing a change. Ladybugs will seek out a mate and the warm temperatures upon release. Their larvae will voraciously seek out and eat pests.
Neem oil is a vegetable oil that comes from pressing the fruit and seeds from the neem evergreen tree. It contains over 90 different organic compounds to help combat pests including insects, fungus and bacteria. Apply Neem oil at a rate of 1 TSP per gallon of water 1x-3x weekly or until the problem is gone (mix with a silica such as Agsil 16 to work as an emulsifier). Foliar spray underneath all leaves and top of the plant.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an ancient algae that is comprised of fossilized diatoms. The fine powder from DE absorbs lipids from insect’s exoskeletons, effectively dehydrating them. We prefer to use DE as an initial foliar spray when combating a major infestation. DE can have a negative effect on the respiratory system, NSO recommends the use of a carburetor mask to filter out any harmful particles when using DE. Never use DE in final stages of growth. Foliar spray 1 TSP DE to 1 gallon water.
*Note: Potassium Silicate is considered an inorganic compound; it lacks carbon and is synthesized in lab with potassium hydroxide.
Potassium silicate is a silica-based foliar spray or root drench that helps plants combat pests, amongst a host of other beneficial aspects for the plant. Plant stems thicken, the plant’s SAR becomes more tolerant to drought and resists wilting, and the plant gets larger leaves and fruit, mainly because the silicate strengthens the stems. Apply Potassium Silicate at a rate of 1 TSP per gallon of water, foliar, 1x per week.
Aloe Vera is a nutrient accumulator and works well when foliar sprayed onto plant leaves just before sunlight. Nutrient accumulators are great sources for the full panorama of elements that your plants need. It contains a plethora of amino acids (Isoleucine, Lysine, Glutamine, to name a few) along with enzymes (Amylase, Catalase, Cellulase) as well as micro nutrients (Vitamins A, C, E, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12) along with choline, calcium, magnesium, zinc and more. But that’s not all! Aloe vera also has lignins and polysaccharides including Galactose and Xylose.
Aloe Vera has two very important compounds for overall health growth, saponins and salycilic acid. Saponins are typically promoted as wetting agents or surfactant, but their role is far more complex than that. Their roles relate to triggering plants in different systems, most specifically the system acquired resistance (SAR) and hormone acquired resistance (HAR). We recommend 1 TSP of Aloe Vera 200x powder or one fresh filet to 1 Gallon of Foliar Spray 2-3x per week.
Cilantro can be used as a natural pesticide. You must follow the directions here exactly for Cilantro tea to work.
To begin, allow your soil media to dry. Allow the plant to almost wilt or just starting to wilt. Take one bunch of organic cilantro and puree with a little water in a blender to make a slurry. Add this slurry to one gallon of water. Let sit in a cool, dark place for 36-48 hours, uncovered. Strain.
Add 1 cup strained cilantro tea to every 1 gallon of water Then add 1/4 cup aloe vera juice & 1 tsp potassium silicate ‘Pro-Tekt’.
Water at night or after sundown; spray soil, every branch and leaf from the top to the bottom. Follow up every four days until four applications are done.
This creates a bio-stimulant that should be effective in dealing with pests.
When organic gardening indoors or outdoors we use an Integrated Pest Management solution (IPM). An IPM effectively manages a pest problem from ever occurring — or if it does occur — makes it completely controllable.
For outdoors, we use the same indoor foliar and spraying schedule (see below). However, outdoors we also plant: a butterfly garden, upkeep a beehive, plant lots of beneficial companion plants based upon what we are growing, install bird feeders and bird baths, utilize buried fencing, and bumper gardens to feed wildlife. For more on this, please check out one of our outdoor organic articles.
1x Per Week: Foliar Spray with Neem Oil, Potassium Silicate
2-3x Per Week: Foliar Spray with Aloe Vera, Full-Power, Kelp
1x Per Month
Apply Actively Aerated Compost Tea (earth worm castings base)
Apply Beneficial Nematodes
Apply 50 Ladybugs
Day 1: Spray with Diatomaceous Earth bottom to top of all affected plants. Lower temperatures to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and increase humidity to 5-60%.
Day 2: Spray with Neem Oil on all affected plants.
Day 3: Rinse all plants with water. Root drench with Neem Oil.
Day 4: Apply 500 Ladybugs.
Day 5: Spray with Aloe, Kelp and Neem Oil.
Day 6: Spray with Water.
Day 7-14. Apply 500 ladybugs. Watch/monitor for a few days. If problem persists, keep doing the schedule as above or contact us immediately for more advanced tips!
This post was written by sperling