Find out about some common pests in your vegetable patch and how to keep them away!
The last thing a gardener wants after carefully tending to their vegetable patch is for garden pests to move in and ruin all their hard work. Here are a few common-sense tips to help stay one step ahead and prevent the pests from making your vegetables their next meal:
- Keep Taking Care of Your Plants
A healthy plant is one that can survive a few exploratory nibbles so don’t forget to regularly feed and water your vegetable patch.
- Add a Physical Barrier
To stop cutworms from eating your plants’ roots, simple measures such as putting a cylindrical barrier around your smaller plants and seedlings will make a big difference. Things like toilet paper tubes can be sunk about an inch down around the plant to block the caterpillars from feasting on the roots. Use row cover over your broccoli, spinach, cucumber and potatoes to keep the frost away and to prevent the garden bugs and beetles from damaging your plants. Netting or mesh over fruit bushes will also protect your berries from the birds.
- Use a Trap Crop as A Decoy
Consider growing other plants to attract the pests and insects that might otherwise feast on your veggies. Dill, marigold and nasturtiums, for example, may take the attention of the worms and aphids that also like to eat your tomatoes. These sacrificial crops are used to draw the pests away from your main crop so don’t plant anything you actually want to harvest!
- Increase Diversity in your Plants
Pests are always going to be around so give your vegetables and fruits a fighting chance by also including plants in your garden that attract the pests’ natural predators. Herbs and flowers are a good way to attract insects and arachnids such as ladybugs and spiders to your vegetable garden where they can help you get rid of those pests.
How to Get Rid of Garden Pests
There are things you can do before resorting to pesticides to get rid of the pests infesting your vegetable garden.
Keep an eye on your plants and act as soon as you suspect a pest invasion. This will prevent the pests from overrunning your vegetable garden and damaging or killing your crops. You may have to remove a plant that’s badly damaged as this will save the ones nearby.
Get Hands On
If you can see snails, slugs, beetles and caterpillars in your veg patch, the easiest way to get rid of them is to remove them by hand. A mild soapy water mix can remove smaller bugs and their eggs from plant leaves and stems and also deter them from feeding on them in the first place. You may have to spend some time on your hands and knees de-pesting your plants but it’s worth it when you can finally pick your bounty!
Read Up on Common Pests
Find out or identify which pests are most likely to be infesting your garden and you’ll be able to deal with them more effectively.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common pests you might find taking a bite out of your lettuce leaves:
The Most Common Vegetable Garden Pests
They pose no threat to humans but aphids can be found on plants all over the yard. These little insects are sap-suckers and feed on plants which can end up causing damage. They also excrete honeydew as they feed which can attract other insects, leave a sticky mess on anything around the garden and also encourages the growth of sooty mold.
While these iridescent beetles are undoubtedly nice to look at, you might have other thoughts when one’s dive bombing you in the garden or eating all your plant leaves. Not only do the adult Japanese beetles chomp through leaves, fruits, vegetables and flowers, their grubs can eat through plant and grass roots, making them a double threat in the vegetable patch.
Found on many flower and vegetable plants, cutworms come out at night and can eat through a plant at the stalk. You may not notice that the stalk has been damaged if the top of the plant still looks healthy so try inspecting your vegetable garden after sundown to catch the pests in the act.