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Home Vegetable Garden Guide

Preventing Garden Pests

A popular misconception is that insects and animals are harmful or unnecessary and have no place in a garden. While some are destructive, many are perfectly harmless or even natural predators for the unwanted pests. They are actually important to the healthy development of your garden crop. Some beneficial creatures perform a specific service by keeping down pests that do harm your crop, others pollinate the plants.

When you set out to control harmful garden pests, it's important to realize that indiscriminate controls may destroy useful creatures as well as the harmful ones.

Biologically Balanced Gardens

Many gardeners rely on chemical insecticides and repellents to eliminate the pests in their gardens. Other gardeners prefer to rely on organic, or nonchemical, means of controlling pests. We suggest keeping your garden biologically balanced using a combination of repeling pest, attracting good predators, spot treatments, natural repellents sprays, and physical barriers. You should result to chemical pesticides only when your garden is looking more like a war zone than an oasis. Well give you tips here on how to use each of these methods, effectively and safely to get the most from your garden this year.

Tips and Solutions

The first thing you will need to do: Identify the specific pests causing damage to your garden so you can focus your time, energy and money on fixing only your problem pests.

Use the tabs below to navigate through our hand picked tips and solutions.

  • Companion Planting

    Insect pests generally have pretty poor eyesight and as a result they seek out their dinner by scent rather than sight. That is one of the reason that big fields of a single crop are so susceptible to pests that love to attack them. In your own garden, you can easily confuse those bugs by mixing up the scents that waft their way on the breeze. An eco-friendly and beneficial way to repel garden pest is done through companion planting such as planting potatoes near beans. Beans work to repel potato beetles and the potatoes work to repel the Mexican bean beetles. See the next two sections for more information on what to plant where to naturally repel pests and attract predators from your home garden.

    All plants benefit in a biologically balanced garden.
    >> repellent Plants
    >> Good bug Luring Plants

    PLANTS TO REPEL GARDEN PESTS

    Some vegetables, flowers and herbs can be planted in the garden to serve as natural bug-repellents. You can take advantage of these naturally deterring plants by inter-planting them in your gardens. Making use of these natural properties is a way to increase production in the garden and fit more plants into a smaller space at the same time!

    Pest Plant
    Ants Pennyroyal
    Spearmint
    Southernwood
    Tansy
    Aphids Anise
    Catnip
    chives
    Coriander
    Garlic
    Nasturtium
    Pennyroyal
    Petunia
    Spearmint
    Southernwood
    Tansy
    Asparagus beetle Tomato
    Cabbage Maggot Garden Sage
    Mint
    Tomato
    Rosemary
    Cabbage Moth Catnip
    Celery Celery
    Garden Sage
    Hyssop
    Nasturtium
    Rosemary
    Southernwood
    Thyme
    Wormwood
    Carrot fly Black salsify
    Coriander
    Garden Sage
    Rosemary
    Salsify
    Wormwood
    Chinch bug Soybean
    Colorado potato beetle Dead nettle
    Flax
    Green beans
    Horseraddish
    Cucumber beetle Radish
    Tansy
    Japanese beetle Garlic
    Geraniums
    Larkspur
    Tansy
    Leafhopper Geraniums
    Petunia
    Mexican bean beetle Marigold
    Petunia
    Potato
    Rosemary
    Summer Savory
    Plum curculio Garlic
    Rose chafer Geraniums
    Onion
    Petunia
    Squash bug Nasturtium
    Petunia
    Striped pumpkin beetle Nasturtium
    Whitefly Marigold
    Nasturtium
    Nicandra (Peruvian Ground Cherry)
    Wireworm White Mustard

     

    ATTRACTING NATURAL ENEMIES

    Natural pest enemies can provide a safe, environmentally friendly means of suppressing pests. Most insects that live in or near our gardens are not harmful, many are beneficial! Predators such as lady beetle, lacewings and spiders consume many prey during their lifetime.If attracting, and keeping, the good guys to your garden is what you would like to do, try a little companion planting.

    A few of the predator luring plants from the parsley and sunflower families this year will keep your garden's eco system balanced.

    Selecting plants to attract natural predators is easy and will enhance the appearance of your home garden. Try to target the pest problem in your garden to get the best results. Keep in mind there many plants to choose from when attracting predator insects, but most will fall into two large groups and are excellent at luring in those predators: the parsley family (Umbelliferae) and the sunflower/daisy family (Compositae).

    A number of culinary herbs in the parsley family include parsley, dill, caraway, cilantro or coriander, and fennel. The daisy family includes marigolds, dahlias, daisies, asters, cosmos, calendula, coreopsis, tansy, yarrow, zinnia, and sunflowers. Ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps and some predaceous wasps are attracted to plants in the daisy family. Here are a few suggestions when choosing plants:

    Pest Predator What to Plant
    Aphids Aphidius Achillea filipendulina, Lupin
    Sunflowers
    Aphidoletes Lupin
    Dicyphus Digitalis
    Verbascum Thaspus
    Lacewings Achillea filipendulina
    Angelica gigas
    Anethum graveolens (Dill)
    Caraway (Carum caryi)
    Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
    Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
    Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
    Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
    Ladybugs Achillea filipendulina
    Angelica
    Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
    Dill (Anethum graveolens)
    Convolvulus minor
    Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
    Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)
    Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia)
    Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
    Sunflowers
    Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) for larvae
    Hover flies (Syphid flies, Syphids) Alyssum
    Broccoli (Bassica oleracea)
    Caraway (Carum caryi)
    Convolvulus minor
    Corriander/Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
    Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
    Iberis umbellata
    Limonium latifolium (Statice)
    Lupin
    Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
    Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa causacisca)
    Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
    Sunflowers
    Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
    Yarrow
    Pirate bugs Helianthus annulus
    Shasta daisy
    Sunflowers
    Soilder beetles Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)
    Beetles Tachinid Flies Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
    Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
    Parasitic Wasps Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
    Blaxing Star (Liatrus pycnostachya)
    Blue Lace (Trachymene caerulea)
    Cosmos bipinnatus
    Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
    Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
    Caterpillars Ground beetles Amaranthus
    Tachinid flies Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
    Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
    Fly Larvae Tachinid Flies Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
    Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
    Parasitic Wasps Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
    Blaxing Star (Liatrus pycnostachya)
    Blue Lace (Trachymene caerulea)
    Cosmos bipinnatus
    Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
    Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
    Fungus gnats Beneficial mites Helianthus annulus
    Shasta Daisy
    Insect eggs Damsel bugs (Nabidae) Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
    Grubs Ground beetles Amaranthus
    Spring Tiphia Wasps Peonies
    firethorn
    forsythia
    Mealy bug Hover flies (Syrphid Flies) Alyssum
    Broccoli (Bassica oleracea)
    Caraway (Carum caryi)
    Convolvulus minor
    Corriander/Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
    Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
    Iberis umbellata
    Limonium latifolium (Statice)
    Lupin
    Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
    Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa causacisca)
    Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
    Sunflowers
    Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
    Yarrow
    Mites Lacewings Achillea filipendulina
    Angelica gigas
    Anethum graveolens (Dill)
    Caraway (Carum caryi)
    Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
    Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
    Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
    Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
    Ladybugs Achillea filipendulina
    Angelica
    Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
    Dill (Anethum graveolens)
    Convolvulus minor
    Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
    Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)
    Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia)
    Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
    Sunflowers
    Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) for larvae
    Pirate bugs Helianthus annulus
    Shasta daisy
    Sunflowers
    Moths Parasitic wasps Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
    Blaxing Star (Liatrus pycnostachya)
    Blue Lace (Trachymene caerulea)
    Cosmos bipinnatus
    Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
    Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
    Scale Lacewings Achillea filipendulina
    Angelica gigas
    Anethum graveolens (Dill)
    Caraway (Carum caryi)
    Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
    Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
    Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
    Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
    Pirate Bugs Helianthus annulus
    Shasta daisy
    Sunflowers
    Slugs Ground beetles Amaranthus
    Soft-bodies insects Lacewings Achillea filipendulina
    Angelica gigas
    Anethum graveolens (Dill)
    Caraway (Carum caryi)
    Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
    Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
    Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
    Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
    Spidermites Beneficial Mites Helianthus annulus
    Shasta Daisy
    Dicyphus Digitalis
    Verbascum Thaspus
    Thrips Beneficial Mites Helianthus annulus
    Shasta Daisy
    Dicyphus Digitalis
    Verbascum Thaspus
    Pirate Bugs Helianthus annulus
    Shasta daisy
    Sunflowers
    Whiteflies Dicyphus Digitalis
    Verbascum Thaspus
    Pirate bugs Helianthus annulus
    Shasta daisy
    Sunflowers
    Parasitic Wasps Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
    Blaxing Star (Liatrus pycnostachya)
    Blue Lace (Trachymene caerulea)
    Cosmos bipinnatus
    Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
    Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

     

    Preserving natural enemies may be the most important and readily available biological control practice you can undertake in your battle of the insects. Your garden will become a more natural and balanced environment for the healthy production of vegetables and flowers. When you garden ecologically, you can keep insect pests below levels where they will cause unacceptable damage, rather than try to get rid of all of them. This process should be thought of as a long term permanent component of your garden. Results are not instant and conclusive but rather, the benefits to your garden are cumulative.


  • Homemade Solutions

    There are homemade methods of dealing with natural pest control for almost any type of insect and critter that might be causing you to think about turning to insecticides. By using spray solutions made with essential oils, other natural oils or even liquid dish detergent, homemade insect repellents can give you all the benefits of a chemical insecticides without the potential harmful effects.

    Here are a few great solutions you can make at home to prevent those pesky critters in your garden:

    Soap Spray

    Dilute liquid dish detergent or other insecticidal soap with water until it is a 1 or 2 percent solution and then spray on plants.

    Neem oil Spray

    Add 5-8 ml neem essential oil to the above detergent or soap solution for maximum affects. The use of neem oil in a solution prevents fungus growth and repels and kills insects, including mites, garden snails and slugs, aphids, Bean Leaf Beetles, Colorado Potato Beetles, Cucumber Beetles, Japanese Beetles, moths, Hornworms, Cabbageworms, Melon worms, Tomato fruit worms, ants, Loopers, and Squash bugs.

    While it fights many scourges, it's nontoxic to birds, mammals and most beneficial insects. (It may affect bees or chase away others so use it as a spot treatment to minimize contact with predator).

    When mixing, the solution should make a milky-white liquid, with no oil floating on top. If there are any oil droplets floating on the top, add another drop of soap and mix until the oil is gone.

    Use the mixture right away and dispose of any leftover. Shake the mix in between sprays.

    PLEASE NOTE: Apply in the evening as sun rays on leaves sprayed with this solution can burn easily.

    Garlic Spray

    Garlic spray is a sulfur insecticide alternative. Works wonders for all type of insects, but for that same reason, please note it can also kill beneficial predators. Use carefully as a spot treatment.

    Chop a few garlic cloves (about 4 ozs).
    Add 2 tablespoons mineral oil, 16 fl oz of water, and .5 oz of liquid soap.
    Let the mixture set for 24 hours, strain and pour into a spray bottle for appication.

    ADDED BONUS! Garlic also repels deer, rabbits, squirrels, dogs and mice as well.

    Salt Spray

    Salt spray solution for cabbage worms and spider mites:
    2 tablespoons of salt
    1 gallon of water
    Mix together and spray!

  • Natural repellents

    Natural or Botanical insect control can be a great non-toxic solution to keeping your garden and home pest free. You can safely prevent infestations by using natural repellents rather than using toxic chemicals. However, don't just leap at something, look for the underlying or root cause and seek a solution for that problem. Overuse can end up creating new problems and getting rid of one pest in exchange for another.

    For proven, effective results without the use of chemicals, you can also turn to commercial natural or organic repellents. This option produces the results of chemical pesticides for animal and insects without the use of harsh chemicals.

    Many 100% natural repellents for insects and animals are available commercially.

     

  • Physical Barriers

    While companion plants, attracting predators, and repeling pests will certainly work to reduce invasive garden pests, you may need to take it one step further and install a physical barrier to keep your fruits and vegetables safe.

    Fencing – A surefire way to keep out those furry critters such as deer, rabbits, or even the family dog is to fence. Chain-link, picket, sturdy chicken wire buried 2' deep and rising up to 8' above the ground. This should take care of any burrowers or jumpers. The only way to keep raccoons or any other climbing animal out is to electrify the fence.

    Portable plant cages -You can build portable cages or cones with wire mesh or screen and wood, or simply bend and fold wire cage material to make sturdy barriers to cover garden favorites such as lettuce and strawberries. This also keep flying insects from laying eggs on your plants.

    Garden fabric – Garden fabric can be obtained from your local hardware store or nursery. Drape the garden fabric loosely over your rows or garden sections to allow room for plant growth, and secure along the edges with soil, stones, pieces of wood, or U-shaped nails. You will need to remove the fabric to assist your crops that require pollination and, of course, to tend to any garden maintenance.

    Collars – Collaring your young seedlings will prevent cutworms from gnawing at the stems. Collaring is simple! You can collar the stems of young plants with toilet paper rolls. Just bury half the collar in the ground around the plant.

    Flat collaring works to protect roots. Cut sandpaper, cardboard or roofing tar paper to 6-8" squares. Cut a ½-inch hole in the center and a slit to the edge of the square. Then just carefully slip the flat collar around right after planting.

     

  • Chemical Insecticides

    One way to control the damage in a vegetable crop that has been overrun by insects and similar creaturesis by using a chemical insecticide. The terms "pesticide" and "insecticide" are not interchangeable. A pesticide is any form of chemical control used in the garden. An insecticide is a pesticide used specifically to control insects.

    Insecticides are chemical products that are sprayed or dusted on affected crops. The spray type is bought in concentrated form, diluted with water, and diffused with a hand sprayer or a spray attachment fitted to the end of your garden hose. Dust-on insecticides are powders that you pump onto the plants. Another technique is to apply insecticides directly to the soil to kill insects under the surface. This is known as applying a "soil drench."

    Correctly using chemical pesticides can be safe and effective

    Used correctly and responsibly, chemical insecticides are not harmful to humans or other animals. However, they are toxic if used incorrectly. It is important to study the label of each pesticide and follow the directions exactly.

    Because research is constantly being done to determine the safety of insecticides and improve their effectiveness, it's difficult to give long-term recommendations about their use. Certain basic rules, however, always apply. Read and reread the label and follow all precautions meticulously. Most important, never make the solution stronger than the label indicates.