Wondering about Organic Pest Control? Well, if you have ever grown your own cannabis at home chances are you well aware that pests can quickly become a very serious and stressful problem. Indoor, outdoor or greenhouse growing, these unwelcome guests always seem to find a way to ruin a healthy grow. Synthetic pesticides and inert growing mediums can help to manage the problem but we all know that organic is the only way to go.
Luckily for those of us that won’t stray from organic habits, there is a wide variety of solutions to minimize or completely stop pests in our cannabis garden. By using an organic routine in our garden we can minimize damage by lowering pest populations to a manageable level.
INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT (IPM)
IPM is a horticultural term that basically describes any system used to control pest populations in order to reduce overall damage to a garden. Non-organic IPM solutions can be engineered plants and modified genetics as well as synthetic pesticides. These can be incredibly effective as seen with GMO maize products in SA but this goes against the principles of organic growing.
Luckily, there are many effective organic pest control methods for home cannabis growers. We will cover 3 organic IPM solutions:
- Foliage Sprays.
- Companion Planting.
- Predatory Mites.
Left untreated, pests can quickly take over the garden you worked so hard to get started. Very often gardeners are stuck between a rock and a hard place when they decide to react to pests because often this is done too late. Traditional non-organic pesticides are generally used to rid plants of these nasty burgers. However, foliage sprays and applications are certainly not limited to these synthetics.
There are generally two options we can take when building an organic IPM foliage spray. The first is either eliminating an existing pest problem, and the second is preventing the problem in the first place.
For pests that are already nibbling on your plants, the idea and goal behind a spray are to prevent reproduction. Once you have identified the pest, it is very important to use an organic spray aimed at that particular variety of pest.
Gnats, for example, are a pest that comes in large numbers and a ready-made foliage spray can be bought to target them directly. The bacteria that is used to combat gnats is called “bacillus thuringienes” (Bt-I) and this will control populations without damaging the plant itself. It is very important to do proper research for a remedy that will be effective for your specific pest problem.
For a proactive approach in your garden, broad range organic pest repellants may be used as well. Aromatic essential oils such as clove oil, cinnamon oil or peppermint oil can be very effective in stopping pests from taking an interest in your garden. Not only do these oils smell great but they are very safe for your cannabis plants when managed correctly.
Because plants absorb nutrients through their roots as well as leaves, incorporating your IPM solution in a compost tea can also be very effective.
A great way of controlling pests in your cannabis garden is by using companion plants. The idea behind this method is to create your own small and dynamic ecosystem. The presence of certain plant species alongside your cannabis plants can create protection in your garden from potential hazards and pests. Choosing to grow other plant species near or in your cannabis garden can build an extra layer of defense against different pests.
Plants such as basil, sage, rosemary, and lavender can be used as a cover crop for your cannabis. This is a very good solution to stop intruders. Aphids, beetles, and thrips can cause terrible damage to your garden but are easily deterred when using the aromatic plants mentioned above.
Companion planting may be best suited to the outdoor or possibly the greenhouse grower due to the larger growing space. However, indoor growers can definitely make use of the same method with great success. Marigolds, for example, are great companion plants. These bright and colorful plants do great when used as a lining in your cannabis pots. Not only do Marigolds grow short, they are very bright. Pests will be attracted to them for lunch instead of your cannabis plant.
When things get really tough, organic growers fight fire with fire! Using predatory mites are not ideal for indoor growers due to the small (generally) growing space. But for the greenhouse and outdoor grower, this can be a very good choice for eliminating existing pest populations. Although highly effective, this method is more advanced and needs to be applied correctly.
There are several options to consider and choosing the right tool for the job is very important. For example, “Stethorus puntillum” which is a beetle species that looks like a small black ladybug. Ttheseares perfect for controlling spider mites. On the other hand, Gnats can be handled by using a soil predator called “Gaeolaelaps”. Considered to be a better option as these not only eat Gnats but also other mites. There are many predator insects available and choosing the right one for your garden comes down to what specific pests you having a problem with.
When buying predator insects. It is very important to have a reputable supplier as these need to be stored and shipped under optimal conditions. Your new garden guards need to be in prime condition or you will be wasting time and money. When placing these fighters in your cannabis garden, it is very important to follow the instructions of the supplier to ensure the best results.
By using the organic IPM solutions we have covered today, pests can be completely avoided without the use of synthetic pesticides. These 3 garden practices are an organic solvent but are certainly not limited to the organic grower. Organic pest management is a great option for protecting your cannabis plants. Whether you facing a full-on pest infestation or trying to prevent one.
Written by Overgrow Team, July 2018