Several years ago, Mother Earth News launched their Organic Pest Control Survey to learn more about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to limiting insect damage in organic vegetable gardens. About 1,300 gardeners from across North America responded, providing new, region-specific insight into organic pest control. Below are the top five for the Southwest region, which includes Central Texas:
- Aphid — Active interventions, including pruning off the affected plant parts and applying insecticidal soap, were reported effective, but so were more passive methods, such as attracting beneficial insects by planting flowers and herbs.
- Squash bug — Most gardeners reported using handpicking as their primary defense, along with cleaning up infested plants at season’s end to interrupt the squash bug life cycle.
- Tomato hornworm — Bt and handpicking were the preferred control methods, and several folks commented that tomato hornworms are among the easiest garden pests to handpick (probably because they’re large, easy to spot and produce a telltale, pebbly trail).
- Whitefly — Insecticidal soap earned a high effectiveness rating (90 percent), though many respondents said they use Dawn or other dishwashing liquids rather than regulation insecticidal soap.
- Grasshopper — Chickens and guineas reportedly give good control by gobbling grasshoppers, but keep an eye on your poultry helpers to make sure they don’t harm crops.
For experienced and full-time gardeners, handpicking, making your own insecticidal soaps, planting the right companion flowers and herbs, and letting chickens do the hard work might be effective solutions. However, the average person may not have time for that. Fortunately, there are professional companies — such as Greener Texas Pest & Lawn — who provide organic pest control to keep your vegetables pest AND chemical free.
Call us at 512-930-0897 for a free estimate or to schedule an appointment.