Everything happened to us: our tomatoes, potatoes or salads grew splendidly, we rejoiced in time imagining our next harvests, and in a few weeks they were ravaged by mold, Colorado potato beetles or aphids. And yet, by implementing these strategies proposed by us, it is very likely to protect your garden from most attacks caused by pests or diseases.
Certainly, the best defense against pests is to have a healthy, fertile soil and enough water and sun. A robust, stress-free plant will be incredibly resistant to all kinds of diseases and pests. If your garden is suffering from an epidemic, this should be taken as a sign that you need to give the plants compost, vermicompost or water or maybe you are planting them out of season.
Promotes plant resistance and not overgrowth
Plants can defend themselves from most attacks. They have evolved slowly over the millennia and have learned to recognize them. They have developed defense strategies and very rarely have to fight in their place. All you have to do is promote their resilience and not their growth.
Prefers traditional varieties to recent ones, optimized to produce quickly and under standardized growing conditions. Respect the rhythm of the seasons. We always want to transplant the tomatoes very early, but we expose them to climates for which they are not programmed. Even if they survive, they will be severely weakened, which risks being settled at the end of the summer.
Do not use synthetic fertilizers that, as an infusion, will directly feed the plant rather than the soil. They will stimulate your vegetables too much, which will grow too fast and will not have the trace elements provided by the soil.
Use as little nitrogen-rich fertilizer as possible (such as poultry manure, cow or beef manure, etc.). Nitrogen is essential for plants, but if it is supplied in excess, it will lead to too fast growth. Plant cells will be blocked with water, and therefore more fragile. And they will be more delicate, more tender and will attract more parasites. If necessary, give the vegetables a boost by sprinkling them from time to time with horse manure, your ideal ally to stimulate their resistance.
Take time to observe the vegetable garden
It is very pleasant to sit and watch the plants. Just for this pleasure, and it’s still worth the time. And then, it will allow you to get to know your vegetables better when they are doing well and, therefore, to observe early attacks of predators or diseases, and then to make the right decision quickly.
If the attack is recognized, the plant is able to defend itself. You can then help her regain her strength with, for example, manure.
If the plant does not react to the attack, you will need to act as soon as possible. This is the case of the mold or gray mold, which appeared recently (around 1845 in Europe). Herbal preparations must be used to control them.
If the parasite is relatively unaggressive (for example, less than twenty aphids on the pumpkin leaf), watch out for ladybugs or flies and let them solve the problem. If you killed aphids, you would deprive your allies of precious food sources, a sure bet they wouldn’t want to stay in your garden too long.
It creates biodiversity
One of the keys to a garden of living, balanced and resistant vegetables is the immediate environment of the respective vegetable patch. The more small and varied islands you set up, the less likely you are to have parasites.
Most of these parasites will no longer be interested in your vegetables. Most of them have only one diet, eat only one plant or family of plants, the wild plant that you let grow at the edge of your furrows.
On the other hand, wild plants or flowers will attract a lot of predators, who will later be delighted to devour the parasites of your vegetables when the day comes. For example, a ladybug eats any aphid. On the other hand, there are hundreds of species of aphids, most living only on one plant or family of plants. If you have aphids on the greens in May / June, they will attract the gargoyles that will be ready for the arrival of aphids on your zucchini in July.
And there are other ideas for mini-ecosystems: a cluster of branches will house hedgehogs who are passionate about insects; a bunch of leaves, gathered with the best leaf vacuum cleaner or a simple pile of dry stones for lizards that love many parasitic insects; a pond will attract frogs, and frogs will celebrate with insect feasts; a hedge for beetles, birds, etc.
Plant beneficial plants
A flower garden and herbs to accompany the vegetable garden is essential for creating a healthy ecosystem in your yard. There are several flowers that can be planted near edible plants, which can improve the yield of the vegetable garden and keep pests at bay. In addition, flowers provide food and habitat for pollinators and predatory insects, which like to eat pests.
Garlic, onions and most herbs are essential for keeping pests at bay and attracting beneficial insects. Perennial herbs such as parsley, thyme or oregano provide important habitat for beetles. Let your herbs grow flowers for an important source of food for bees and other pollinators.
Create your own biological insecticide
Prevention is always the best medicine, but sometimes pest infestations can occur. Here is a very effective homemade insecticide spray. You must not forget that you are disturbing the ecosystem that you are trying to establish every time you spray. Therefore, this intervention should only be used as a last resort.
You can prepare an organic hot pepper insecticide with the following ingredients: ½ cup of pepper (or 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper), 1 liter of water, 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap, 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bring the water to a boil, remove from the heat and add the peppers. Cover and allow to infuse and cool. Drain and mix with soap and oil. If you use cayenne pepper, it is not necessary to bring water to a boil. Put the mixture in a spray container and spray the affected area. The preparation is effective against all pests and fungi.