Many people enjoy growing their own vegetables and fruits in their own backyard. Having grown my own summer produce for years now, I have learned some tricks on yielding the best crop and how to keep pests at a minimum. Considering that ‘going green’ is becoming a standard part of our vocabulary now, you may wonder if there’s another way around keeping insects out of your garden without using the harsh chemicals that we’ve trusted for ages. Not only will these tips help the environment, but they can make the food you eat safer as well.

A wonderful way to keep insects out of your garden is to employ nature as your helper. There are various types of birds that consider certain types of insects as their primary diet source. Most birds also feed their young insects to give them all that great protein! Knowing which kinds of bugs you’re trying to get rid of will determine the types of birds you need to attract. Barn swallows and purple martins will take down mosquitoes and most flying insects. Bluebirds love grasshoppers, crickets, ground beetles, spiders and caterpillars. Robins eat a lot of standard garden pests, such as grubs, weevils and various types of beetles.

Knowing which type of bird you want to attract is only half the battle. The key ingredients to attracting birds are food, water, shelter and a place for them to raise their young. Bird seed is designated by the types of bird that likes to eat it so be sure to get the right one for the types you would like in your garden. Make sure you have trees with lots of foliage so they can make their nests. If you have a birdbath be sure to place it in a sunny location. Some birds are ground feeders, while some like theirs hanging from the trees, so make sure you have several types of feeders to ensure a good mix of insect eating birds.

Another type of natural insecticide comes from a plant. Marigolds have natural chemicals in them that generally prevent insects from infesting any plant close to them. A good plan for any garden would be a border of marigold plants. Marigolds can be purchased in full grown form at most nurseries and you will be able to plant them directly into the ground, coming in a variety of reddish orange and yellow colors. Their scent is a bit strong but not unpleasant, making them perfect for your garden and holding off pests.

Alright so you decide that you really need some sort of real insecticide, rather then relying on nature to help save nature. Gardens Alive has made a great product called Oil-Away Insecticidal Spray that controls pests by suffocating the adults and eggs, rather then killing them with harsh chemicals. Made from cottonseed oil that has been squeezed or pressed, rather then using chemical solvents, this insecticide is safe to use all all fruit baring trees all season long. It can be sprayed on vegetables all the way up until harvest and does not harm beneficial insect populations, such as honey bees.

There are a number of ways to protect our environment while saving your garden. Employing nature to work with you through the use of birds or marigolds ensures that you are in no way hurting the planet. Keep our home safe while you keep your garden safe!

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