Common Garden Pests and How to Get Rid of Them
Are that pesky creepy crawlies getting into your garden? Do they run off with pieces of your plants like thieves in the night? Most gardeners would tell you that the hardest part of keeping a garden alive is keeping it safe from critters. Although their size and colors allow them to camouflage, some can be beneficial to your garden, while others could be destroying it. So, how do we tell the difference? And how to we know what’s eating our crops? Getting rid of your garden pests doesn’t mean that you need to take extreme measures!
Fortunately for us, there is a better way! Thanks to the green living and organic movement, this article offers a variety of different non-toxic options to rid yourself of the invasive pests! First off, however, we need to assess the problem. Before any offensive actions should be made, you need to start with preventative ones.
Step 1: Grow with Healthy Soil
The soil is what gives your garden life! Through nutrients, water, oxygen, and root supports, your garden feeds off of the soil; the healthier the soil, the better the garden.
Step 2: Bring in Helpful Predators
Many bugs help your garden by decomposing waste, pollination, and eating the pesky pests. So how can you tell the difference and how do you attract them? These 10 plants attract the types of insects you want for bringing in helpful predators:
Step 3: Keep Vigilant
Unfortunately, the pests will always outnumber the gardener. So with that said you need to keep vigilant in monitoring your garden. Take a close look at your leaves (on top and underneath) in order to assess the damage as well as figure out what animal is snacking on them.
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Step 4: Acceptance or Action
Depending on your crop’s damage levels, you may decide to accept the invasive critters, or take action against them. This decision is yours to make! Unfortunately, any actions you take against the critters may also harm the beneficial predators and pollinators. Keep in mind that damaged produce is safe unless:
- It has been chewed on by rodents or raccoons
- It has been defecated on
- It has squiggly white decoration – caused by leaf miners still inside the leaf
If you follow these rules you should have no problem with the “acceptance” option. Just keep in mind that if you have produce that has been nibbled on by insects, it’s still safe if you make sure to cut off the damaged areas before enjoying the rest!
Step 5: Mechanical Solutions
If you’re looking for a natural and simple hands-on technique to provide a protective barrier between your plants and the insects, this is the option for you. However, the devices may be non-toxic and harmless, they can still potentially injure beneficial bugs, including our beloved bees! Make sure to be selective.
- Barriers – Fences, paper collars, and nets keep insects and other animals at bay. Floating row covers keep pests (including beetles) away. However, keep in mind barriers will prevent pollination, so raise your row covers and nets while flowers are blooming
- Handpicking – Possibly the most labor-intensive option, picking pests and egg sacks off of plants by hand is effective and also non-toxic.
- Traps – This is a mechanical way of luring pests away from plants, allowing them to be removed from your garden.
- They can be purchased at your local garden store, or made in the comforts of your own home – if you’re feeling adventurous!
- Water Pressure Spray – A stream of water will force out aphids and spider mites, but you will have to repeat the process regularly. This process will only work properly if you use it on sturdy plants and allow dry time in between sprays.
- Insect Vacuums – Exactly as it sounds, a handheld battery powered vacuum can be used to remove bugs. Just shake the plant and vacuum the pests that fall off.
- Diatomaceous Earth – Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth can be sprinkled around the stems of the plants to keep crawling pets away. It is safe for humans (and pets) although should not be breathed in directly. It will keep both pests and beneficial insects out. As a side note, diatomaceous earth will deactivate when wet so reapply after watering or rain.
Step 6: Chemical Options:
Last but not least is the option of trying organic pesticides. Check to make sure that all chemicals are approved by the USDA for use by organic growers. Start with the least toxicity and most specific option first. It’s a best to use your organic pesticides in the evening when bees are least active.
The following is a list from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, follow this guideline for the organic, mechanical, and chemical pesticides that are safest for bees:
Lime sulfur and sulfur
Insecticidal soap and oil
Remedies for Pests in the Kitchen
Don’t forget, some pest countermeasures can be found in the kitchen as well! Always test your remedies on a small sample, before applying thoroughly. Also, never apply on a hot or extremely sunny day, as you don’t want the plants to burn.
Whether you’re taking action or accepting your fate, it always helps to know what’s eating at your plants and how they affect your garden as a whole. Keep in mind that there are always organic and non-toxic options before you have to think about more extreme measures!
The Article is brought to you by Fix.com.