Backyard Gardening: Natural Pest Control

This year I vowed to get tomatoes and herbs planted--something I've missed doing for the last 3 years.

Gardening Predicament

I have no backyard to speak of since I live in a townhouse. I had my gardener plant a row of knock out roses against the brick wall when we moved in 3 years ago.

Wood decking covers the area from the house to the roses. All that is left is a small patch of yard at the far end next to the gate. So I decided to try container gardening. The results have been pleasing.

How My Garden Grows

I bought some giant pots. In one I have 3 tomato plants with cages over them to support the growing plants. So far, I've got 16 tomatoes that are getting larger every day with many blooms on all 3 plants.

In others, I planted yellow squash, leaf lettuce, and herbs--rosemary, basil, cilantro, and others. I've got many more herbs I want to plant, mostly for insect control--especially mosquito control. I'll list them below.

Another huge pot holds my free plants. Free plants are what you get when you buy beautiful blooming plants for indoors and then plant them outside when the blooms fade. I've got Easter Lilies from last year that produced 4 new plants this year with huge blooms on all four plants. Gorgeous!

This year's Easter Lily and a pot of daffodils have also been potted up.

I mix things together--chrysanthemums growing with the lilies, herbs growing with the tomatoes, etc. Companion planting is a good way to natural pest control.

Ever since I can remember, I've bought a pot of chrysanthemums at least once a month for my coffee table. When the blooms fade, I plant them in the yard. This habit has resulted in a beautiful bed of multi-color mums at my house in the country.

Natural Pest Control

A rule of thumb is if a plant has a pungent aroma--as lantana does--it's usually good for some kind of insect control. The aroma comes from the oils in the plant. Most herbs are great as natural pest control plants. Here are a few that I currently grow or plan to add to my garden over the next few months.

The oils in basil repels thrips, flies and mosquitoes. I've got some with my tomatoes.

From what I've read, catnip repels just about everything except for cats. They love their catnip. Repels aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants, weevils, and mosquitoes.

Love my mums!  The natural insecticide pyrethrum is made from chrysanthemums. Mums control roaches, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, and ants.

You know those citronella candles you can buy for mosquito control? This plant is the source. My local Home Depot has several pots of this which is great at mosquito control.

In the South, garlic has always been planted in rose beds because it repels aphids, some moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, and snails. Plus, you can use it in your cooking.

I adore lantana which is excellent at mosquito control. I have 3 different varieties growing at our country house and a pot of lantana by my back door at our townhouse. Lantana blooms constantly until winter. It's drought tolerant and does well with just a little water. Water a lot, and it will take over the earth! The berries produced in the winter may be toxic to people. All parts may be toxic to animals so don't let your dog chew on it.

Lemon Balm
This herb repels mosquitoes, but I haven't found it in my local nursery. If you're interested in this, just do an online search for mail order herbs with the zip code of your local area.

Lemon Thyme
This herb, a variety of thyme, also repels mosquitoes. I've grown this in the past.

Lime Basil
This variety of basil also repels mosquitoes.

This is another flower that I really like. I've grown just about every variety. It may be the best know for repelling insects like whiteflies and nematodes in the soil. Only the scented variety work to repel insects. Although it drives away many "bad" insects, it dies attract spider mites and snails.

My grandmother grew nasturtiums in her garden. They're great planted with tomatoes and cucumbers to repel wooly aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. The flowers, especially the yellow varieties, trap aphids.

Simply a beautiful display in the garden and in pots. They also repel leafhoppers, many different aphids, tomato worms, and other pests.

Takeaway Truth

Gardening is relaxing and rewarding in so many ways. Try it. You might like it.

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