Now that it’s summer, many of us have already planted around our homes and in our gardens. The popularity of homegrown, natural foods and plants continues to grow, but the unavoidable truth is that pests will undoubtedly find your plants. The pesticides you choose are critical to the safety of the food you eat, the air you breathe, and the environment in which you live. In this post, we take a look at best practices for a healthy growing season.

A little bit of research can go a long way when it comes to eradicating invasive inhabitants. It’s important to know what pest(s) you are dealing with, find the right product or remedy to address that specific pest, and use the product or remedy properly. This will ensure both safety and effectiveness.

Pest Consumers and Pest Deterrents

First and foremost, the most natural way to go about pest management is with nature itself. Killing off all insects isn’t usually the best plan of attack. If you do, then you affect the delicate ecosystem surrounding your plants. A healthy ecosystem requires beneficial insects, microbes, and fungi, both in the soil and on the plants themselves, so introducing other predatory insects or creating good habitat for them, as well as building soil fertility, can be an effective pest management approach.

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Ladybugs, praying mantis, spiders, bees, etc. are good for your plants because they eat the pesky pests. Keep them around or introduce them to your garden if you find one in the house.

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Like a human, the stronger and healthier a plant is, the better it can fend off dangers. Keep your plants well-fertilized and watered. Periodically rotate potted plants for ideal sunlight. Build your garden in an area of the yard with optimal sunlight.

Practicing Pesticide Product Safety

Of course, infestations can happen to even the most healthy plants living in the best ecosystems. When that happens, reinforcements must be brought in to ensure survival of your plants. If your plants are in a highly susceptible situation or an infestation has begun, the first step is to properly identify your pest.  Any one pesticide is not a “cure-all” for all pests. Perhaps your plant has been invaded by thrips, aphids, or spider mites. Each pest may have a different recommended formula for eradication. This makes research key. It’s an even better idea to do your research ahead of time. Take a few minutes to research the plants you’re planting in your region. What type of pest are most common for the situation? There may be natural pesticides that will deter the start of an infestation.

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Do some research to learn about your plants and your region. Find out what pests are most common. You can preemptively spray them with natural, homemade remedies to reduce the chances of harm to your plants. Essential oils such as, cedar oil and orange oil, have become popular home remedies for deterring pests. Read more from this all-natural blogger. Try and see what works because not having to revert to chemicals is ideal.

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Store-bought pesticides contain chemical combinations that can, indeed, get rid of your pest. However, they also pose a threat to you and the environment. Reading the label is key. Make sure the product you buy specifically lists your pest. Additionally, look out for signal words indicating the level of toxicity. Typically, Caution = slightly less toxic, Warning = moderately toxic, and Danger = highly toxic. For more on this, visit the Fact Sheet on Signal Words.

Check out Our Water, Our World (OWOW). It’s a program created to raise awareness of the connection between pesticide use and water quality and provide information to consumers about integrated pest management (IPM) and less-toxic alternatives that are not causing water quality problems. The program produced a quite comprehensive list of less-toxic products for stores and consumers to consider purchasing.

For additional tips to keep in mind when selecting the proper pesticide this growing season, visit the National Pesticide Information Center. Happy Gardening!

Disclosure: All information in this blog is meant for educational and informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by a government agency or health care provider.

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