Using good organic practices will encourage healthy plants that are resistant to pests and diseases and a diversity of plants and varieties suited to the climate and soil will encourage a growing environment that promotes beneficial insects, wildlife and microorganisms.
There will always be pests in the garden. Of all the huge numbers of living organisms in the system, only a very small number of species cause problems. In fact, most are beneficial and some essential to the health of many plants. Organic gardening techniques are key to prevention – by maintaining the ecological balance of the garden so that pests and diseases are kept in check by their natural enemies and the healthy soil food web that facilitates nutrition of plants and their natural defence mechanisms to pests and diseases.
More information about Beneficial Insects.
If a problem with a pest, disease or weed arises then an organic gardener will use targeted and sustainable strategies to deal with it based on knowledge of the pest, disease or weed and its life-cycle and minimise any adverse impact on the growing environment. Here is a list of some useful techniques that are aimed at prevention or targeted treatment of problem pests, diseases or weeds:
COGS has a recommended approach to managing weeds in its community gardens outlined in this paper.
Broad spectrum sprays (those that kill a large number of organisms), such as pyrethrum, are particularly destructive of the ecological balance if used indiscriminately. Such sprays also destroy the natural predators and parasites of our pests. Some pests always survive any spray program and those survivors can rapidly multiply, unchecked by their natural enemies.
The problem of creating ecological imbalance by use of aggressive chemical methods of pest control in crops is well known and such methods have no place in organic food production. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) provides an effective alternative. It applies techniques in common use by any good organic gardener, but its advantage is that it applies those techniques in a systematic and integrated manner. It aims to maintain or enhance rather than destroy the ecological balance of living organisms within our soils and plants. The attached paper describes the main features of Integrated Pest Management While it was developed for use on pests and disease of plants, the approach can be broadly applied to managing weeds in our gardens.