Something gardeners know is that they will face bugs!  Of course, the initial reaction is to run out and buy various commercial insecticides.  The trouble with using conventional chemical pesticides is that it undermines the benefits of raising home grown vegetables.

1.  A healthier solution would be the reduction and prevention of such a bug invasion to start with.  Companion plantings are an age old, yet effective, approach to pest control and help with better vegetables, as well.

2.  There are organic and natural sprays that you can use, as well as homemade solutions, ranging from a simple mixture of dishwashing soap and water to a natural, organic approach that is gaining in popularity, Neem oil.

3.  Or, you could fight bugs with bugs!  Two bug fighters that an organic gardener can easily introduce to their organic vegetable garden are lady bugs and praying mantis.  The simplest way is to just buy and release them directly into your garden.  You could do a little research and find plants and flowers you can plant to attract and keep them in your vegetable garden area.

An example of a companion planting is growing tomatoes along side carrots.  Carrot flowers can attract insects that feed on other insects that would otherwise go after your tomatoes. But, for the beneficial insect-attracting properties of carrots to work, they have to be allowed to flower.

Sage, rosemary, and radishes are recommended by some people as companion plants, yet listed by other people as incompatible.  Alliums inter-planted with carrots confuse onion and carrot flies.  Rosemary repels cabbage worms, geraniums trap cabbage worms and are recommended general companion for all brassica (cabbage, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc).  Marigolds will deter beetles and nematodes. Mints (such as hyssop, sage, and various “balms”) repel slugs, the nemosis of lettuce and cabbages.

An organic treatment that has recently started gaining popularity is Neem oil.  Neem oil has been used in India as a pesticide, miticide, and also fungalcide for millennia.  What is interesting is that it has also been used for its medicinal qualities as well!

Neem oil does not work the same way as commercial pesticides and does not kill garden bugs as quickly. Insects absorb the neem oil compounds just like natural hormones.  Neem enters their system and blocks the real hormones from functioning properly.

Bugs “forget” to eat, to mate, or they stop laying eggs. Some even forget that they can fly.  If eggs are produced they will not hatch or the larvae don’t moult.  Needless to say insects that are too confused to eat or breed will not survive.  The population eventually plummets and they vanish. The entire life-cycle is broken.

The neat thing is, Neem oil does not hurt beneficial insects.  Only chewing and sucking bugs will be affected.  It really is fascinating.

However, this is not something that happens right away.  People spray Neem oil as an insecticide and anticipate immediate results, since that is what they are used to from chemical poisons.  When that does not happen many people conclude Neem insecticide does not work!

It will deliver the results…but, you have to give it time to work.  It’s a much smarter way to deal with insect pests than to simply kill everything and then having to worry about the long term effects any residue may have on you and your family.