Controlling Common Garden Pests
Nothing can take the green steam out of a new farmer’s thumb like an infestation problem. And, controlling common garden pests like aphids, loopers, potato beetles and cucumber beetles can really seem like a full-time job if you don’t plan your garden properly. Luckily, there are some basic, all-natural ways that you can prevent garden insect and pest invasions so that your sowing and reaping time doesn’t just become spraying and swearing time.
Encourage Beneficial Insects to Muscle Out Garden Pests
Not all bugs are pests. In fact, there are plenty of wonderfully beneficial insects that you can invite to your garden that will earn their keep by eating damaging garden pests. Encouraging beneficial insect populations to live in your garden helps control the populations of many common garden pests, plus many good insects offer their own entertainment value: quite a few are cute and entertaining in their own rights (like ladybugs, mantids and my personal favorite, spiders). To encourage good bugs to linger, plant flowering plants and/or vegetables that beneficial insects prefer (like morning glory vine and yarrow), or import them.
Use Row Covers and Barriers
A simple but effective way to control and prevent common garden pests from settling in your garden is to physically block them with floating row covers and barriers (like cloches, cold frames and the like). Especially beneficial when plants are young, tender and oh-so-tasty to their nibbling nemeses, row covers and garden fabric help protect both the leaves and root stems of young fruit and vegetable plants, plus they can be moved and adjusted as plant needs change.
Keep Your Garden Healthy and Clean to Prevent Pests and Insect Invasions
Possibly the easiest (and most rewarding) way to control garden pests and deter infestation problems is to keep your garden healthy and clean. Underfed, dehydrated and stressed plants are particularly vulnerable to hungry insects, so be sure to keep garden soil fertilized and appropriately watered. Also remove dead and dried plant parts and fallen leaves, as overwintering insect eggs and larvae (as well as fungal spores) can lurk in the decaying matter.
A wonderful way to unwittingly encourage garden pests to linger in your garden is to have a steady supply of weeds nearby. See, even if you keep your garden bed weed-free and clean, other less attended parts of your yard or lot can offer a steady source of feed via weeds. Then, once your garden crops are ready, those hungry bugs will happily move on to reap all that you’ve sown.
Grow Plants that Repel Insects
There’s probably no more efficient, eco-friendly way to keep common garden pests out of your garden than to grow herbs, vegetables and plants that repel insects. Not only do you get the delicious, beautiful end products, your productive plants do double duty by keeping their own garden beds pest-free. If you’re not sure what plants to grow, try reading Plants That Repel Insects for a full list of herbs, plants and vegetables that deter bugs.
Finally, if you can’t beat ’em, maybe it’s time to kill ’em. Here are some all-natural, homemade pesticides and bug sprays to help you knock those buggers out. Happy hunting!