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Environmentally safe methods to control garden insects and disease

As your garden grows you will inevitably face some threat from a variety of local garden pests, diseases and weeds.  The trick is to mitigate the damage without causing harm to the Eco system. The overall goal is to keep your garden as pest, disease and weed free as possible.  Ultimately this will result in a beautiful and healthy  garden, be it a raised bed at the local community garden or your garden at your place of residence.

Weed Control-To control troublesome weeds around your garden or garden bed you can use the following natural solution.  Pour 1 gallon of white vinegar 5% into a bucket, add 1 cup regular table salt, add 1 tablespoon of dishwashing detergent or you can use a spreader sticker as directed.  Mix thoroughly.  Funnel ingredients into a tank sprayer.  Spray the weeds when the weather is warm.  It is advisable to not use this solution directly in your garden bed around your plants because it may sterilize the soil and prevent your valuable plants from growing.  This solution should be used around the perimeter of your garden bed or in open areas.  DO NOT USE GLYPHOSPHATE (one trade name is Roundup) OR ANY OTHER HARSH NON ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CHEMICALS AT DIG it per our User Agreement, topic number 8

Below are some common safe and natural remedies that will help eliminate your pest and disease problems. Click on the icon to get a close up of the product.  There are no implied brand endorsements, just product type.  Always follow package instructions.


Aphids are very small insects and one of the most common garden pests you will find.  They attack all kinds of vegetables.  Their sucking habits can totally destroy your garden.  Neem oil, Insecticidal Soap, or liquid detergent mixed with water can destroy them.  Make sure to spray in the early morning or later evening.  Get the insecticide on the pests body.  Also make sure that you spray under the leaf surface and on the stems.  Yellow sticky traps also help to eliminate them. Natural enemies that eat aphids are lady bugs, green lacewings and praying mantis.


Whiteflies are a common garden pest.  They may stay hidden during daylight hours under the leaves of plants.  They can be sprayed with neem oil,  insecticidal soap, or pyrethrins.  They are also attracted to yellow stick traps.  They bright color lures them in where they will be trapped to perish.  The idea is to break their life cycle so there will be fewer in the next generation will.

Tomato Horn Worm and Fruit Worm

The Tomato Horn worm can be devastating to your tomato crop.  The worm comes from the adult sphinx moth.  The signs of this pest is that at first the top leaves of the tomato plant are eaten to the stem, followed by the lower leaves.  The tomato fruit worm leaves small holes in the ripening tomatoes which leads to rapid decay.  The best remedy for these pests is to spray your tomato plants with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT)

Squash Bugs

Squash bugs can be picked by hand if they are not too numerous.  Otherwise diatomaceous earth or neem oil can be used.  Dust the plant surfaces, upper and lower, with the diatomaceous earth.  Spray the insects with the neem oil.

Cucumber Beetles

Cucumber beetles will attack all plants in the cucurbit family:Melons, cucumbers, cantaloupes, pumpkins, squash.  They are attracted to yellow sticky traps.  In small numbers they can be hand picked.  You can hand pick them by wearing yellow gloves coated with petroleum jelly.  Praying mantis also eat this beetle.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew is caused by a fungus.  The best practice is to take preventative measures.  Spraying young plants with a Baking soda mixture (mix one tablespoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon liquid detergent, to one gallon of water).  Spray your plants weekly.  A milk-water mixture can also be used (one part milk to 2 to 3 parts water).  Spray plants when the weather is warm.  If Powdery mildew has taken hold in your garden, remove the infected leaves and destroy them.  Do not compost.  Then use the preventative measures above.

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Praying Mantis

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