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Pest and weed control
My friend has just started to grow organic veges and is having some problems with weeds and pests. What kind of chemical free weed killers and pesticides can this person use to get rid of them?
There will soon be an organically certified weed killer available commercially, and organically approved pest sprays are also available - an organic supplier is your best starting point to finding these.
However, to the organic grower, pest and weed control in the organic garden is primarily achieved through good management techniques, and is a natural outgrowth of organic growing which treats the environment as an inter-related whole, rather than a series of parts which are approached in isolation. It is a common misconception that if you use non synthetic sprays, you are gardening organically - but even natural sprays kill beneficial insects. Organic gardening is more about holistic management - if you take a holistic approach to your soil and the rest of your environment, treating them as an inter-related naturally functioning whole, then the resulting health of your plants will help prevent pests and disease. Organic growers have a range of techniques to help them, such as rotation, mulching, encouraging beneficial insects, and managing weeds by such things as preventing them going to seed and adopting a more flexible view of them.
When your friend's organic garden is up and running and functioning as a whole, they will have less problems with pests and weeds. And occasionally, when a major problem occurs, natural sprays can provide a back up.
Here are some books which give comprehensive info on organic weed and pest control:
Healy, A. J. Mason, R New Zealand Weed and Pest Control Society, Mechanical weed control - keys to getting good yields while reducing or eliminating the use of herbicides,
French, Jacqueline, Jorgenson, Greg, Organic control of common weeds, 1989
Readman, Jo, Weeds - how to control and love them, 1991
Also see this answer on weed control