Organic Solutions for Vegetable Pests – Environmentally Friendly Protection

Remember the word “vermicompost” because it can significantly reduce the damage your garden receives from gnawing insects.  Vermicompost is worm compost that comes from food waste.  Tests were conducted at Ohio State University to determine if a projected theory was true concerning pest control using this environmentally safe organic product.

Scientists have long suspected that worm compost was a deterrent to certain pests, but this was shown to be very accurate in the tests where plants were exposed to many varieties of insects while the compost was used in different amounts in each test.
While organic pest control is nothing new, it helps to see results based on scientific studies.  In this study, several pests were shown to be less desirous of plants with the compost than those without.
The compost was added to a commercial potting soil and used to plant pepper, tomato, and cabbage plants.  Tests were used without any pesticides and some plants had only the commercial potting soil without the compost.
Comparisons between plants with and without the compost yielded these results:
  • Adult aphids or mealy bugs were added to the environment of the tomato and pepper plants.  The average number of aphids on both pepper and tomato plants dropped significantly on the plants that contained the worm compost.
  • Cabbage caterpillars were given an opportunity to have their way with the cabbage plants, but the leaf damage was much less on plants with the worm compost.
Although the tests did not render a conclusive answer as to why the insects were thwarted from the test plants containing the compost, it is speculative that there may be more than one reason.  Nutrients in the compost could make the plants less attractive to the pests, or because the plants had less stress, they might have had more resistance to infestation.
Organic pest control is not perfect by any means, but neither is chemical related protection.  Relieving pest problems is an ongoing process, and every little bit helps. Having and taking advantage of the ability to use organic means of protection as opposed to toxic methods is yet another way to contribute to an eco-friendly environment.