Farmers practising organic farming have been advised to seek creative ways of controlling pests and diseases in order to successfully put together a productive organic kitchen garden.
Together with well-aerated soil and the right amount of compost, disease control is a vital part of organic farming. According to Julius Ahagaana, an agronomist, a farmer can use plants with a pungent smell to keep away the pests.
“One of the common plants that a farmer can use is the onion. The onion leaves can be planted around the vegetables in a ring formation, as they act as repellents to insects causing diseases,” says Ahagaana.
Immediate laying a of a net over a nursery bed can prevent pest which attack seedlings as the they search for cell sap, leaves or stems to feed on. Many a time, seedlings die following heavy infestation, which also puts them at risk of contracting diseases transmitted by pests like insects.
With a new net or repaired one would keep away grasshoppers and snails that feed on the leaves of the young plants. Caterpillars attack leaves and stems of tomatoes, cabbage, chilly, among others.
Similarly, nets would also keep off moths, which lay eggs on the seedling at night. The eggs later hatch into larvae before cutting the stems, or feed on the leaves.
White flies cause massive damage on young plants too. They suck the cell sap besides transmitting viral diseases.
Notably, Access Agriculture, an agricultural research institution, says the flies die after the first application of pesticide. By the second and subsequent application, the fly could have created resistance against the pesticide.
That means the pesticide will go to waste besides endangering humans and the environment because of their chemical components.
Laying a shield does not require much expertise. With a locally available net a farmer can pin small posts around the nursery bed and lay strong sticks from one end to the other to elevate the net to about one mitre.
Approximately one mitre of the material is covered by soil around the bed to prevent entry of pest.
Watering can be done directly from outside the shield. It should be removed only when the seedlings are ready to be transplanted.
Alternatively, the farming expert suggested the use of mint or pyrethrum for the same purpose. A farmer can also make an organic pesticide from plants like chives and Mexican marigold whose leaves once boiled excretes a juice with a bitter taste that keeps insects away.
“You can take a handful of the leaves, cut them into small pieces and boil them for about half an hour. Once the water has cooled, add a bar soap to the mixture and create foam,” says Julius Ahagaana.
Another way of pest control in an organic farm is planting trees around the farm that act as habitat for birds.
One of the by products from pyrethrum known as pymarc can also be used to control stem borer in the maize plants.