What are some non-toxic methods of pest and disease prevention and control?
To reduce pest and disease problems, it is recommended that you use good sanitation and cultural practices in the garden. Remove dead leaves, twigs, flowers and other plant debris so there are no hiding places for pests and pathogens. Prune out diseased and injured plant parts as quickly as possible to halt the spread of disease. Sterilization of pruning equipment after such use will also help to lower disease spread.
Cultural practices such as proper spacing and pruning to encourage good air circulation, selection based on hardiness, site-suitability, disease and pest resistance will go along way to keep plants healthy and stress-free, and therefore more resistant to attack.
Instead of resorting to pesticides if a pest problem exists first try simple mechanical methods of removal such as hand picking or washing down with water to dislodge the pests. A strong water jet spray from a garden hose is quite effective for this purpose.
If this does not fully solve the problem, use a pest suppressor such as an insectididal soap spray, which disrupts the outer membrane of certain insect pests.
Courtesy of the NYBG Plant Information Service