This page explains only the most effective, cheapest and easiest solutions to have pest-free vegetables. You’ll be surprised how easy it is, especially when many people resort to insecticides and complicated measures. There are lots of solutions, but I’ve only listed the best solutions.
Should you use pesticides?
Chemicals are an easy but bad solution because they harm you too. Additionally, pests are evolving to become more resistant to pesticides, which is why pesticide formulas often change and become stronger. It is much better and cheaper to use natural solutions.
Neem is a tree from India, and it’s oil is widely used as a safe organic insecticide. It doesn’t kill insects instantly like harsh chemicals. Basically it is a deterrent, and it affects the hormones of insects so they forget to eat and lay eggs, then eventually die. When sprayed about once every 7 days, Neem oil takes care of almost every pest in your garden.
- Very effective.
- Non-toxic to humans, natural, and won’t harm the majority of beneficial insects.
- Affordable. For a vegetable gardens that can feed your whole family, a $50 investment virtually ensures a year of bug-free vegetables.
IMPORTANT: Buy only “cold pressed” organic Neem oil that’s fit for human consumption and use on vegetables. You should also use an agent to properly mix the oil with water so it spreads evenly when you spray. Always test your spray on specific parts of plants first, then wait a few days before applying to the rest of the plant. This is to prevent any harm to plants.
- You need to purchase the oil (unless you grow your own Neem Tree)
A great video about Neem oil is below:
Simple cheap netting will solve all your bird, bug, rabbit, snail and slug problems in one go. Just $50 of netting will last you for years, and ensure you have a productive garden without worrying about pests or damage to your harvest.
- Solve all your pest problems
- Very easy
- No harmful chemicals
- Affordable (cheaper than pesticides)
- Rainwater passes through
- Unattractive looking
- If you accidentally lock in bugs, they will cause damage to plants.
Qualities for good netting:
- UV resistant: doesn’t deteriorate in the sun
- 1-2mm holes: smaller holes excludes more bugs, but you also need water to pass
- Allows rainwater to pass through: make us of free water
You really don’t need to look any further than netting. Even if you lazily throw netting over vegetables, it will provide all the protection you need. The only exception is larger animals may chew through or break them, although it’s rare, and a simple wire barrier solves this problem.
Snails and slugs:
- Remove them by hand: This is easily one of the best solutions. Get over the fact they are slimy and wear gloves. Snails and slugs usually only come out in the mornings or during rain. Even if you go around and squash them with a stick whenever it rains, you’ll only need to do this once every month in most cases, then you’ll barely ever see them. You may miss a few, but they wont do much damage.
- Use a beer trap: Place a small tray of beer near plants. They will get drunk and drown. If you’d rather not kill them, there are plenty of other options.
- Build an elevated boxed garden: If you have a garden that isn’t at ground level, you’ll deal with far fewer snails and slugs.
- Surround your garden with copper tape: This creates a barrier. Many people believe the copper gives the snail a mild electric zap. I don’t believe this is the case. Some snails will go straight over it, but some will avoid it. So it is not a perfect solution, but I’ve found it does help deter them.
Rabbits and other animals:
- A simple fence is all you need
- Neem oil kills almost all bad bugs: It’s the overall best solution in most cases.
- Use a garlic spray once every few days: This also keeps insects away. Make sure you spray inside lettuce leaves and under leaves. If you have an infestation to begin with, first use a high pressure water spray to wash bugs off.
- Use diluted dish-washing liquid spray: This is a surprisingly effective and easy way to get rid of small insects. One $2 bottle can last you for years. If there is a bug infestation on a plant, spray it fully once a day for 2-3 days, and all bugs should be gone. To prevent infestations in the first place, check your plants each day and spray if you find bugs. Be careful not to spray young plants. Also always test a small section before spraying the whole plant to make sure it wont do any harm.
- Weed mats: these are plastic sheets that cover the garden bed, but your vegetables grow through holes you cut into the mat. This blocks the light for weeds so they don’t grow.
- Manual weeding: Weeds aren’t a big problem and you may only need to weed once every 2 weeks. But even if you leave them it’s not a big problem. If you are clearing weeds before planting for the season, it’ll only take about 10 minutes for each garden bed. Use the right tools and some gloves to make work easier.
- Vinegar: vinegar is a natural weedkiller. Be careful not to spray other plants as it will harm them too.
Other easy solutions:
- Keep plants healthy: a healthy plant is better able to defend itself against its natural predators
- Remove rotten or diseases parts: bugs are attracted to rotting parts, and mostly don’t eat healthy vegetables.
- Plant garlic and chives between vegetables: These are two magic herbs. Most pests wont touch them, and they grow almost anywhere all year round. There are also countless uses for garlic and chives. You might get black aphids on the chives, but at least you’ll draw them away from your other plants.
Don’t grow rows and rows of the same vegetable
One of the biggest mistakes people make is grow rows of the same vegetable next to each other. This is called a “monoculture” and it’s not how nature does it. One problem with it is pests can easy travel between plants and are more destructive. But if you plant something they wont like in the middle, they will be deterred. Additionally, some different varieties of vegetables will grow even better if you put them together (called “companion planting”). They form a kind of symbiotic relationship where one’s effect on the soil benefits the other.