Bugs in the Garden

How do you deal with the bugs on your plants without using chemicals?

I try to manage bugs in my vegetable garden by using three levels of defense. Each level is more aggressive as you go from 1 to 3. You need to think of your garden as an ecosystem that you are adding positive and negative things to. Obviously, you want to leave it alone as much as possible. Sometimes you can impact with a positive input or you may need to intervene more aggressively to save a crop. I always use organic remedies but even organic sprays and dust can impact beneficial insects negatively.  That is the reason I use a holistic approach starting with good plant health and planting nectar-producing and host plants that attract beneficial insects to the garden. I also try to anticipate what might like to eat my plants and stay on the lookout for them. Knowing the good bugs from the bad will also help in knowing when you have a problem. As a last resort, I use organic sprays and dust starting with the mild and moving to the harsher.

Cabbage Worm

First Line of Defense for Managing Insects in the Garden.

Knowing that the cabbage worm is attracted to cabbage and other plants in that family gives me a heads up as to what to expect.

*Know which insects to be on the lookout for.

*Research the plants you are growing before you plant.

*Make a plan to deal with bugs before they take over.

*Keep your plants healthy. Grow your plants with the correct light, water and nutrients.  Plant in the correct season.

*Scout for insects regularly.

*Yellow sticky traps help to catch bugs in the garden so that you can monitor them.

Yellow sticky traps

*Identify insects correctly by looking them up on the web. Here is a good link to help you get started.

Click here to go to safer brand insect library

*Encourage beneficial insects by planting herbs and flowers that have flowers with lots of nectar to keep beneficials in the garden.

Click Here to go to Mother Earth News and see what to plant to attract beneficial Insects and bees

Second Line of Defense for Managing Insects in the Garden

*Exclusion using a lightweight row cover. Use on plants like leafy greens that don’t need pollination. This will keep flying insects from laying eggs on your plants but still let the light through.

Lightweight Row cover

*Hand picking and dropping in  a pail of soapy water.

*Strong stream of water from the hose to knock off insects.

Third Line of Defense for Managing Insects in the Garden

Using organic sprays and dust 

Here are the main ones I use

*Sprays of pepper or garlic that repel insects.

*Diatomaceous Earth to dust on plants.

*Insecticidal soap.

*Neem oil and other plant oils

* BT Bacillus thuringiensis –  naturally occurring bacteria to kill caterpillars

*Spinosad –  natural bacteria for a broader selection of insects.

The most aggressive remedy in the third line of defence is

*Organic pyrethrum or Pyganic     (only spray late in evening when bees are not around)

You can buy all the above remedies online from Safer brand organic gardening products.

Click here to go to safer brand organic gardening products

Yellow and Blue Sticky TrapsSticky traps are quite valuable to growers. They are used for one of two things: Trapping or monitoring. … Use yellow sticky traps totrap/monitor most pests. (Includes whiteflies, fungus gnats, shore flies, thrips, winged aphids, leafminers, scales, and many others).