Keeping Your Garden Insect Free

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Nothing is tastier during the summer than home-grown vegetables. Unfortunately, insects feel the same way and often destroy vegetable gardens in short amounts of time. To prevent these pests from reaping the benefits of diligent gardening, consider the following tips.

Plant transfers early. While it may be somewhat risky in cooler climates to plant early, this practice can prevent initial pest problems. Insects are not as common during the earlier months, so this is the perfect time to get a head start on a healthy garden.

Keep the garden cultivated and weeded. Healthy soil is a great contributor to pest prevention. Organic mulches often attract insects, so try to avoid these. Weeds should be removed regularly. It is also helpful to add fertilizer frequently and ensure the soil stays moist.

Keep crops covered. Plastic mesh is useful for keeping common insects away, and it is an affordable prevention method.

Plant insect-resistant produce. Some types of vegetables and herbs are naturally unattractive to pests. It is also helpful to rotate crop planting locations by avoiding planting the same families in the same areas for three years. This will lower the risks of damages from overwintering pests living in the soil.

Use pesticides or pest-specific control methods.
Both organic and commercial pesticides can be harmful if they are not washed off before consuming produce. However, they may be necessary for keeping certain insect populations under control. It is best to avoid using pesticides that kill both harmful and beneficial pests. Whenever possible, use a pesticide that is only targeted at a specific problematic insect. The following tips are also helpful for preventing specific pests:

  • Grow chives, mint or basil to keep aphids away.
  • Put crushed eggshells around the bases of plants to prevent snails and caterpillars.
  • Use a repellent with eucalyptol to discourage mosquitoes.
  • Grow thyme, dill or cilantro to keep leafhoppers control.
  • Grow garlic, catnip or yarrow to prevent potato beetles.

Pest problems are not always limited to insects. In addition to these measures, install some chicken wire or mesh fencing around the garden to keep rabbits and other rodents out. Each of these prevention methods are affordable and easy, so they will work for any budget and skill level. And of course, if all else fails, there is always the option to call a pest control professional. Most companies have proven methods and systems to both exterminate pests and ensure that they don’t return.

How to investigate the pests/diseases attacking your plants

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Though there are many sites that contain this information, my experience in the past you have to go through a series of detail on colors and attributes of the insect/fungus and without a degree in botany or Entomology I really have little idea what they are asking for.  Gardeners.com’s “Pest and Disease Detective” on the other hand allows you to simply select the specific plant and the area that is being attacked (leaves. stems, flowers, fruit, roots) and it will show you thumbnails to quickly identify the pest/disease that is harming your plant.  With a simple click you go right into the description and details how to terminate the problem. 

Simple but effective just the way I like it…

Ladybug Release: Not a good day to be an aphid in my garden

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We normally would have already had our annual ladybug release for aphid control, though this year it has been a little colder than normal so we have to postpone until this evening.  You want to release your ladybugs at sunset since they do not like to fly at night and gives you the best odds of keeping them in your garden.

For fun and a little carnage we decided to let 20-30 out early and placed them on some plants with a few too many aphids (peas and mint)  In the picture above fortunately (or unfortunately depending how much you loathe aphids) you can’t see it but the ladybug was just having his first victim.  With many more to come that were surrounding him (or her).

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For some less gruesome pictures of ladybugs you can check out some of the photo shoots from our previous years ladybug releases

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