Friday, June 17, 2016

Tips to Keep Pests - and Pesticides - Out of the Garden

Attract beneficial insects.

Virginia Cooperative Extension recently published a great article called "Tips to Keep Pests - and Pesticides - Out of the Garden."  The Extension office recommends seven methods of insect control in the vegetable and ornamental garden that do not use pesticides. Instead, they rely on simple, common sense organic gardening techniques that can work very well in the home garden.

Among the advice offered in the article, the Extension Office recommends:

  • Removing many insect pests by hand: A simple method to remove pests like the Colorado potato beetle and cucumber beetle larvae uses soapy water to drown them. Simply use a clean glass jar with a lid, like a spaghetti sauce jar that you're going to put into the recycling bin anyway. Place one tablespoon of liquid dish washing soap in the bottom and add water until the jar is one-quarter to halfway full. Then, put on a pair of rubber gloves or gardening gloves and pick the bugs off, one by one, dropping them into the soap water. The soap makes it impossible for them to climb out. Close the lid when you're finished insect removal and place the entire jar in the trash.
You can remove insects by hand instead of using pesticides.

  • Using aluminum foil "collars" around seedlings to prevent cutworms: I never thought of using aluminum foil, but instead use newspaper or paper collars. Fold a strip of paper to make a thick collar, tape it shut, and place it around seedlings to act as a barrier for the cutworm. You can also cut a paper cup in half and use the open ring of paper as a cutworm collar.
Cutworm collars can be made from recycled materials. These are made from PVC pipe scraps. You can also use aluminum foil, newspaper or paper cups.

  • Attract beneficial insects: Planting flowers around your vegetable garden not only attracts pollinators, it increases the number of beneficial insects in the garden, too. Predatory wasps can take care of tomato hornworms. Ladybugs will gobble up mites. A variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables offers a feast for insects of all types, but especially beneficials who will help keep the harmful insects in check.

Herbs like these chives planted among other vegetables attract beneficial insects.

For more tips, please see: 7 Tips to Keep Pests - and Pesticides - Out of the Garden from the Virginia Cooperative Extension.


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