So now that you are getting trained to become a good urban gardener, your next thought would be going about protecting organic terrace garden.
You need to have a basic understanding when we speak of pests and diseases – it is natural to have them around us. In our ecosystem, they exist with us and will not cause too much harm if we do not disturb them.
Protection per se means to protect – however here you have to cover 3 different aspects of protection.
- Protection from pests
- Protection from Diseases
- Post Harvest Protection.
Since we are here dealing with growing your own food, post harvest protection does not play any major role. Because what we produce, we consume, no storing for long periods.
Protection From Pests and Diseases – The Organic Way
In organic vegetable farming, the first thing we need to know is – controlling pests and diseases is a blanket approach and has to be done as a wholesome package. Here is how you do it.
You need to start from using a healthy soil – I prefer adding neem cake to the potting mixture, which is both nutritive and keeps soil safe from pest attack.
Make sure the potting mixture is prepared in the right manner and you are not unknowingly harbouring any pests and diseases.
2. Healthy Seed
This is the second most important point. Purchase good seeds, I always prefer buying seeds from the government horticulture department. Every district in India has a supply of seeds, you can buy from them or if you are anywhere near an agricultural college, that is the best place for buying some best seeds.
One of my friends asked about online seeds – I cannot vouch for others, but at SIM Organics I personally would guarantee quality seeds, if found otherwise it shall be replaced. You can buy by mailing here
3. Crop Rotation
If you are growing the same vegetable in the same pot year after year, you would be inviting all the pests and diseases associated with it. Always change the veggies, make a chart of what you are going to plant and when and then proceed.
I would suggest simple rotation of
Legume ⇒ Root Vegetable ⇒ Fruit Vegetable
4. Maintain Good Hygiene
It is not enough to keep the garden area or container clean, you also need to take proper care of the tools you use. Maintain proper hygiene to make sure you accidentally do not induce pests or diseases.
5. Keep Soil Aerated
Tilling soil in a timely manner is very important to make your soil free of pests and diseases. Make it a practice of turning the top soil around the crop whenever you can.
6. Timely Sowing
We have spoken about off season crops and their harvest, however you should understand that this may cause some pest attack. Be ready to face sudden (unknown) pest / disease attack during offseason.
You can use nets that protect your veggies from monkeys and birds. Use some water barriers if you find too much ants spoiling your vegetables and herbs. I particularly see this in the mint plant. Lots of ants around the plant sucking off the leaves of the juicy and tasty mint extract.
8. Plant Companion Crops
Some plants have the natural deterrent effect on pests and diseases, such as the chrysanthemum and the marigold. Keep a row of these and you get the benefit of both beauty of flowers plus their natural insecticidal effect. Well, we call this the border crop though, which invites the pests to themselves – oh! yeah!
Companion crops on other hand are the ones like onion and carrot, where onion inhibits the advance of any pest on carrot.
Traps for insect pests and some microbes too work very well.
Mix equal quantities of hardwood sawdust, bran, molasses and enough water to make the solution sticky. Spread around the base of the plants in the evenings. The molasses attract the cutworms and as they try to pass through it they get stuck. The substance dries out in the sun and the pest dies.
Spread this bait around the plant and the cutworm dies, many other traps are possible (Hey I got a title to my T post).
You have light traps, fly traps, pheromone traps and so on, which I shall be explaining soon.
10. Biological Control
Our scientists have successfully found out many enemies of common pests. So we use the -enemy to enemy = Friend formula here.
We culture the biological enemy and introduce in our terrace to keep the pests away.
eg Control of Cabbage caterpillars: Baciilus thuringiensis
Farmer friendly kits of biological control agents are available in agricultural departments, which you can easily avail.
11. Natural Pesticide
If you do not find all the above 10 methods useful you can make a quick DIY natural pesticide at home.
I have this lined up for tomorrow, yet here is an example for your understanding
A solution can be made from marigold using water and soap. The liquid acts as a crop strengthener to help potatoes, beans, tomatoes and peas resist blight, mildew and other fungal diseases. It also repels aphids, caterpillars and flies. Garlic spray is particularly good against army worms, Colorado Beetle, False codling moth, Khapra beetle, Mexican bean beetle and Imported cabbage worm. Garlic can also kill nematodes if soil or batches of soil are drenched with garlic liquid.
I am taking part in #atozchallenge