It’s a deliberate choice that I make to not use pesticides in any form – organic or chemical. And, while this choice comes at a cost (it rules out growing many exotic plants) it offers some decent rewards as well. The main reward being that I have very few pests that visit my garden.

Most gardeners tend to find plants that they want to grow and then add them to their garden. Then, an assortment of pests seem to turn up as though someone’s put on a buffet and the only way they leave is when they’re carried out in the garbage – after a decent spray.

Year after year the problems occur and the gardener just looks for ways to better manage the pests. They start with chemical sprays but then realise that this can’t be doing the environment any benefit, so they turn to organic pesticides as an alternative. Needless to say, many organic pesticides contain chemicals anyway – detergents, soap flakes, bi-carb soda and a plethora of other acids or alkalis.

Did we ever stop to think that maybe these things weren’t good for our garden whether we made them ourselves or bought them already pre-mixed in a convenient spray?

Probably not. In fact, we possibly thought we were doing the environment a good turn.

But, when we stop and think about what we’re doing we realise that any type of pesticide, organic or chemical, is harmful – it just depends how harmful!

It’s a philosophical paradigm really. On the one hand you get to grow anything you want but have to deal with the pests that those plants attract. While on the other your plant choices are a little more limited but you don’t lose precious gardening time trying to combat the little critters. Yet the permaculturalist will argue that there’s a third option – companion planting.

To be honest, my garden’s not completely pest-free – but it is pretty close. I still have a few roses that the aphids love but the ladybugs keep them under control. Then there’s the sowbugs that like to feast on my new seedlings and the snails are never far from their bromeliad habitat. But moths, caterpillars, grasshoppers and crickets are kept at bay from the birds that I try to attract.

So, before you go mixing up a batch of organic pesticide take a moment to consider why you need it all. If it’s because you can’t find an alternative to keep the pests at bay then find some other plants to grow instead. It will be far more beneficial for your garden environment and the world’s environment at large.