It is not natural for plants to have problems. Plants that are well fed with MicroLife and are planted in the right site with correct watering will not have problems. Applying complete nutrition will allow the plants & soils to build their own defenses. This is the natural way. Most importantly, do not overwater.
Overwatering causes soil diseases to developed, pest insects to come and weeds to set up shop. Besides water is a precious research that we must conserve. Note as your Organic program matures you will need to apply less water. This is especially true for lawns.
Cardinal Rule #1
View on all incidences of pest insect, disease or weeds as the symptoms of a deeper problem. Solve the problem and the pest issue goes away. Treating just the symptom is a temporary fix. For example excessive turf water in the fall will cause the Brown Patch disease to proliferate. View the Brown Patch problem as symptoms of an anaerobic soil condition with too much water and not enough oxygen.
Cardinal Rule #2
Never feed your plants high salt chemical fertilizers. These will burn plants (stress), cause malnourishment (stress), destroy soil health (stress) and invite problems to happen. You will notice that right away high salt chemical fertilizers stress the plant because of incomplete nutrition and the plant does not get the building blocks it needs to manufacture its self-defense.
Cardinal Rule #3
Never use chemical pesticides. They are all poisons that are dangerous for you, your plants, your pets and the entire eco-system. We don’t want to indiscriminately kill all life on our farms and gardens. And we don’t want to leave toxic residuals everywhere. There is always a safe Organic method to use.
Organic Pest Insect Control
Remember 99.9 % of all insects are beneficial or benign.
This combo will keep plants healthier and discourage pest insects. Note Garlic Oil will keep bees away so plants that need bee pollination should not be sprayed.
- Plant lots of flowers. The nectar and pollen will attract beneficial insects who will hunt the bad guys for you. Keep your property clean of nasty chemical pesticides so other hunters like frogs, lizards and birds can thrive.
- As a matter of habit regularly spray a mixture of MicroLife Super Seaweed and Garlic Oil.
How Pest Insects Find Plants
It is not natural for plants to have pest insect problems. When this occurs the plants are undergoing stress and sends out signals that pest insects hone in on.
These signals can take the form of color, gaseous molecules or vibrations. All insects have antennas that act as their radar. Just like we humans use radar to find objects, so do pest insects to find food. If the plants are healthy they will not send out the signals that bring the pest insects in.
Pest Insects are Picky About Taste
The healthier the plant, the greater the sugar content
is in the plant.
This can be measured by a Brix instrument. When plants are healthy they are manufacturing more food (sugar). As humans we like sweet tasting plants. Pest insects don’t and will not eat a high sugar level plant.
Organic Pest Insect Control
Aphids – Botanical Oils and Insecticidal Soaps. Some examples will be Neem Oil, Soybean Oil and Orange Oil
Army Worms – Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) biological agent
Caterpillars – Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) biological agent
Chinch Bugs – Occurs when St Augustine grass is hot, dry & stressed. Water well during this period. Use EcoSmart Granulars if problem occurs
Fire Ants – Organic properties have fewer problems because the active soil biology lays war to them.
Two ways to fight them further. 1 – Use baits over the entire property. Make sure the bait doesn’t have a knock down chemical insecticide attached to it. 2) Mix Orange Oil with water to obliterate the visible, nuisance mounds.
Fleas (Outdoor) – Use EcoSmart Granulars
Fleas (indoors) – Use Ortho Boric Acid (Fleabuster) on the carpet. Mop tile with Orange Oil mixed with water.
Fungal Gnats – Mix 2 – 4 oz of molasses per gal of water and drench soil
Grubs – Most of the time grubs are beneficial by digesting organic matter. When organic matter is in short supply in the soil they will go after plant roots. Grubs are only a problem in some turfgrass areas. For immediate knock down, soak the area with Neem Oil when the grubs are close to the surface.
Lace Bug – We mainly see them on Azaleas where the pH is above 6.0. Add sulfur to lower the pH. For immediate knock down combine 2 oz each of Neem Oil, Molasses and Super Seaweed to a gal of water. Spray the underside where the Lace Bug lives.
Leaf Miner – Preventive sprays of Neem Oil, or Garlic Oil or Spinosad every 1 -2 weeks during the problem season. Hanging sticky traps on tree branches help too.
Mites – Use beneficial mites or use a combination of plant oils (Neem, Soybean or Citrus) and Super Seaweed mixed with water.
In the insect world it’s the hunters (beneficials) vs the huntees (pest insects). When you apply an insecticide; chemical or organic, unless it’s a specific biological; it will hurt both the good guys and the bad guys. Just because it’s a suggested Organic pesticide doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. For example Pyrethrum is an Organic pesticide but it is also a general neurological poison as well. This means it will affect all life forms. The advantage of Organic pesticides is that they are generally less toxic than chemicals and do not have the long poisonous residuals.
We have found that well fed plants in the right sites with the right watering programs just don’t have problems. We let the beneficial insects do our controls for us. And many of our clients buy beneficial insects to release on their properties. Whether you use your native beneficials or bring them in be very careful with all insecticide sprays so you don’t kill off your good guys.
Mosquitoes – Mix Garlic Oil with water and spray the entire perimeter. This will give you approx 3 – 4 weeks of non-toxic protection. Garlic doesn’t kill but repels. This is much safer and wiser than the mosquito misting systems using pyrethrum. Your property will smell like an Italian cooking festival for about 3 hours then the odor will go away.
Scale – Are harder to kill because of their armoring. Use Orange Oil plus Neem Oil or Orange Oil plus Soybean Oil mixed with water. Spray twice, one week apart.
Slugs/Snails – Sluggo which is pelletized iron phosphate
Stink Bugs – This is a tough one. Spray young plants when they are starting out with Garlic Oil mixed with Super Seaweed every 2 weeks as a prevent. Use botanical oils like Eco Smart when the stink bugs are in their nymph stage. Use a hand held shop vac. Be relentless.
Thrips – Spray a combination of Neem Oil, Molasses, Garlic Oil and Super Seaweed mixed with water.
Organic Disease Control
The vast majority of bacteria and fungi are beneficial. Without our little good guys we simply don’t exist. The rogue bacteria and fungi are the diseases we fight and they are always caused by malnourishment, stress or a combination of both.
The use of chemical fungicides causes more problems because they kill everything; the good microbes and the bad microbes. This leaves a vacuum which allows the bad microbes to re-populate and doesn’t solve the root cause. It’s much better to improve your soil, properly feed your plants, manage your water and to apply biological inoculants.
Leaf Spot, Anthracnose and Powdery Mildew – spray MicroLife liquids or quality compost tea as a preventive. This will build up the positive microbes on the leaf surface and will strengthen the plant over all. Foliar spray Neem Oil if there is a problem.
Black Sooty Mold – Caused by pest insect excretion. First eliminate the pest then spray Orange Oil on the leaves. It won’t disappear right away but it will over a short period.
Blight – Avoid getting the foliage wet. Provide good air circulation. Cut off and remove affected leave parts. Spray Neem Oil or Cooper fungicides as controls.
Cercospora and Entomosporium Leaf Spot – The leaf spots are symptoms of a root disease problem caused by overwatering. Spray the leaves with Neem Oil and apply MicroGro Granulars around the roots as a top dress. Water plants with Ocean Harvest.
Soil Diseases ~ Brown Patch, Take All Patch, Pythium, Fusarium, Phytopthora – Soil diseases are always caused by overwatering and a lack of oxygen around the root system. This causes the soil to go anaerobic which means the good microbes die off and the bad microbes take over.
First never use chemical fungicides, they are dangerous to be around and destroy the ultimate solution, sound soil health. If irrigating, reduce the amount of water being applied. Next apply MicroGro Granulars to the affected area. MicroGro is not registered with EPA as a fungicide but is a bio-inoculant that contains ‘anti-disease’ microorganisms that go to war on the bad guys.
Other Organic products to use for soil disease control will be Neem Oil and Hydrogen Peroxide. They are both non selective and will kill the good as well as the bad. But they are much safer to be around and have short residuals. A week after using them apply MicroGro Granular to reestablish the beneficial good guys.
Organic Weed Control
This is actually a lot easier than most people think. For the full lowdown please see our Organic Weed Control Booklet.
When you have a lot of weeds it’s because you have a ‘weedy soil’. Change the soil to favor your desired plants and your weeds will largely go away. Weeds, like all plants have positive purpose. They are there to improve the soil and to grow where no other plants will grow. Overtime they bring minerals to the surface, make the soil more friable and add organic matter. In essence they plan their own demise.
To speed things along use only MicroLife fertilizers and Humates as this will change the soil ecology and structure to favor your desired plants and not weeds. As you weed problem goes down, your plants health will increase and you’ll conserve water all at the same time. Just by following natural law. Pretty cool. You can have either connected circles of problems, or connected circles of solutions. It’s all based on what you apply to your soils and plants.
Now don’t assume you’ll never have weed problems; you’ll just have less of them and a much safer environment. Remember that all chemical herbicides are dangerous and actually cause more weeds to grow. A few other methods for Organic weed control.