How do you keep insects at bay without using chemicals? There are several ways to do this that I have used myself and that actually work.
1. Companion Planting. Companion planting has been around since the Native American times. You can use the companion planting method for pest control as well as to achieve a better yield of vegetables from your plants. There are many vegetables, herbs, and flowers that actually repel certain insects, some even repel rabbits and deer. Planting some of these herbs between rows or plants will help keep damaging insects away from your vegetables. Here are just a few ideas to try. There are literally hundreds of companion planting methods. Plant Marigolds next to your tomatoes to keep the tomato horn worm away. Catnip, chives, garlic, onions, rosemary, basil, mint, oregano, and thyme will ALL keep insect pests away from your vegetable plants. Some flowers that can be used are Borage, Nasturtium, Marigolds, Petunias, Chrysanthemums (dried), calendula, and sunflowers! Planting these flowers amongst your veggies will also help! I've planted my squash around the outside of the entire garden before because both deer and raccoons do not like the fuzzy texture of the stems of the squash plants. Planting herbs near your plants will also help keep rabbits away, as they do not like the smell. You can even plant some Marigolds with your tomatoes in containers!
2. Beneficial Insects. You can actually purchase beneficial insects, worms and egg pods from your garden centers and from online catalogs. The most popular insects you can buy are ladybugs, praying mantis egg pods, and carnivorous nematodes. If you buy a container of ladybugs make sure you release them in the evening when the weather is relatively cool. If you release them into your garden when the temperature is too hot they'll just fly away and not stay in the area. Ladybugs will eat a variety of pests from your plants and they'll stay in your garden area. Praying Mantis egg pods can be placed throughout your garden where they'll hatch and keep pests away! Make sure if you are buying the Praying Mantis egg pods to look inside the container before you buy them. If you open it and there is a praying mantis already hatched, do not buy it. More than likely they hatched and the one that's left ate the rest of them! They're cannibalistic! So make sure you've got the egg pods in there. Carnivorous nematodes are worms that eat other worms. They will come with directions on how to release them. These methods work well!
3. Make your own pesticide! You can use some dried chrysanthemum petals and cooking oil and make an oil to spray on your plants. I also use a mixture of warm water, natural dish soap, and hot sauce. Shake it up and spray it using a spray bottle. Another recipe is to use white flour and cayenne powder. Mix them up and dust them on problem areas. Of course there is always the large variety of pre-made organic pesticides. They also work but can be pretty expensive. My methods are cheaper and work also!
These are just a few ways to keep your garden organic without much effort. There are entire books dedicated to all of these methods so feel free to do your own additional research. UPDATE: I have STILL been unable to plant my peas! The combination of my health, work schedule and weather has made it nearly impossible! We have a few dry days coming up so I will try again in the next couple of days. I will blog about my planting and also there will be some blogs about my chickens! I have the coop....and I need to make some renovations to it and we'll be in business! Keep reading!!