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Minimize and Optimize Your Yard Chemical/Pesticide Use

Some pests are pretty harmless in the yard but some will keep from getting a single good vegetable from a certain crop, or eat a shrub down to bare stems each year if not controlled somehow.  There are always options.  Some methods can be very effective but also very harsh for the environment.  General use insecticides may fix the weevil problem you had, but now there are no pollinators surviving in your yard. Or owls eating the dying rodents from a poisoned bait now are dying themselves.  There are ways to reduce the need for the harshest chemical methods and perhaps not needing any chemical at all (synthetic or organic). Especially if you can tolerate losing a few strawberries  (sacrifices to the wildlife as a compromise). 

Hint- native plants have much less pest problems.

Here are some suggestion from the Environmental Protection Agency:

organic pesticide

Integrated Pest Management

natural pest control

Long term natural pest control will be the most cost effective & sustainable approach to managing any pest. Integrated pest management (IPM) provides a stable, continuous suppression of pests while minimizing any chemical use.

Organic/Natural Alternatives

If you feel the need to use some sort of chemical, there are a LOT of options out there and a whole gradient of both effectiveness and broader toxicity to what we call "non-target" organisms (those you aren't experiencing as a pest").  Some less toxic chemicals are still very effective, especially when combined with other Integrated Pest Management methods.  But don't buy in to the idea that anything organic is automatically less toxic.  Remember- arsenic & cyanide are organic and the organic extract of nicotine from tobacco plants is very toxic (to us and many other species). 

I've collected a few good & accredited sites with safer alternative to the use of harsh chemical pesticides.  You may be surprised at how many not-good items make it onto the many "safer" lists out there.  One suggests spraying salt water on your garden.  Um, no.  Don't do that.  Salt will accumulate and poison the soil and very few plants are salt-tolerant.  Can you see the pun coming?  Take internet info with that nice grain of salt.

Permiculture Research

10 Old-Fashioned Pest-Control Methods for Your Garden

Keep good insects with suitable habitat, use beneficial plants, hand remove pests, utilize soap & other natural safer sprays, maintain healthy soil, and try barriers over spraying.

safer pest control

Pennsylvania State's article on Less Harmful Pesticides

This list of lesser harmful pesticides does include synthetics that can cause negative effects to people & for certain wildlife like fish (if they get into watersheds).  So these may be still on the moderate side and not the least harmful.  But good information still.

pest control

8 Natural & Homemade Insecticides

From Treehugger.com "These natural and DIY pesticides are effective at helping to rid your crops of harmful critters, but safe enough to use around you and your family."

organic pest control

From Clemson Cooperative Extension, a very extensive list of chemicals/sprays organized by type (soaps, horticultural oils, botanical oils, etc) but also including the still fairly problematic Pyrethrins (toxic to fish if they get into the watershed), so keep that in mind.

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