Use these facts and tips if you opt to go organic in your garden.

April 16, 2013
Photo: Oxmoor House

If you opt to go organic in your garden, these are the common practices. Always read labels carefully. Just because they’re safe for food does not mean that they won’t irritate or harm you if used improperly.

  • Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, is a bacterial parasite of the larvae of butterflies and moths that can be sprayed or dusted. It combats troublesome larvae, including cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, tomato hornworms, and corn earworms.
  • Copper fungicide is used to prevent fungal diseases of fruit. It can also be mixed with a dormant-oil spray in winter.
  • Horticultural oils include dormant-oil sprays applied to fruit trees to smother overwintering insects. Use growing-season sprays carefully, as sun can be damaging after spraying.
  • Insecticidal soap kills mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, and more with no residual effects.
  • Kaolin spray is used as a protective coating on fruit trees for a variety of insect pests, as well as on some garden plants, such as squash, that are vulnerable to borers. Spray before the problems arise.
  • Lime sulfur spray has long been considered the least toxic treatment for fungal problems, such as brown rot on peaches and cherries.
  • Neem oil comes from the seed of a tropical tree and is effective against certain insects, mites, and fungi, but it should be used with caution. Apply when bees are not working.
  • Spinosad is a biological insecticide used to control pests in organic gardens. Use against fire ants in the food garden, as well as against roly-polies (pill bugs). Use sparingly in consideration of beneficial insects.
  • Sulfur spray can be used as a fungicide, insecticide, and miticide. It is commonly used for powdery mildew on grapevines. It can be irritating, so wear protective clothing as recommended on the label.