Insect and fungal pests are a natural part of our ecosystem. We strive to reduce their damaging impact by trying to understand their needs and changing the conditions in our garden to be less inviting to them by
- tolerating a degree of pest damage to encourage predatory animals to life in our garden. By eating the pests they reduce the damage significantly without the need of chemical pest control,
- rotating crops in our beds to interrupt the pests’ life cycles,
- choosing plants that are well adjusted to the local micro climate and growing them in the right season,
- sustaining the health and improving the properties of our soil to the benefit of our plants,
- combining plants that fare well together,
- adding in companion plants that deter and confuse pests and attract predators and pollinators to our garden,
- using physical means like nets to protect plants during pest migration periods,
- using traps to reduce the amount of pests and help us monitor what is happening.
Applying all those measures already takes care of a lot of potential problems. Even more important, it doesn’t interfere too much with the garden essentially taking care of problems on it’s own most of the time.
Of course a vegetable garden is artificial and not an undisturbed naturally balanced environment. We prefer our crops to grow in sufficient numbers. We are also not willing to loose a whole crop to a pest only because the weather makes a sudden change to the pest’s favour.
To deal with to a focal, serious pest incidence we opt for solutions that have as small a derogatory effect as possible on the basic capability of the garden to take care of itself. This doesn’t allow the use of poisons.
Even though poisons would probably eradicate a particular pest they also kill our beneficial insects. The predators that survive the poison would wander off, because there would be no pests left to hunt. Since a lot of poisons have a widespread effect they also kill soil organisms and jeopardise the vitality of our soil. All of these side effects of synthetic pest control would make the garden even more vulnerable on the long-run.
How to learn more about toxicity of particular means of pest control?
The internet is your friend: Search for the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of a particular product or compound. These papers are used to describe products available for resale. Industry uses them to define and limit their liabilities, so they are rather on the safe side. They are not influenced by marketing speech.