If your vegetable plants are being eaten by insects, common sense tells you that the insects need to go before the plants are destroyed. Entire books are written about the battle to rid fields and gardens of pests. We are going are giving to give you the basics of protecting your plants from pests. Removing unwanted pests and prevent them from returning is an obvious goal. Garden pests damage plants by nibbling and chewing leaves, stems, and roots and sucking juices out of plants. Damaged plants are less resistant to disease and drought. The damaged plants are less likely to thrive.
In the ecosystem of a garden are beneficial insects like ladybugs that enrich the soil. Unwanted insects do nothing but prey on and destroy plant life. We will deal with the destructive types first.
Getting Rid of Unwanted Bugs
There are various methods you can use to remove the bugs that are damaging your plants. A tedious and time-consuming method, handpicking is effective. For the squeamish handpicking can be quite unpleasant. Damaging bug can be removed by placing an old towel or rag around the base of the plant and shake the stems and leaves so the bugs drop onto the rag. Or spray the plant with a garden hose to wash the bugs onto the towel. Don’t let the bugs go free. To kill the bugs, drop the towel into a soapy bucket of water. A plant-derived poison like rotenone or pyrethrum need to be used if the pests are rampant and are covering your plants. These should be applied to the infected plant sparingly. These are available in liquid or powder form. You can use a hand-held or pump type applicator, also called a duster, to apply a powder or dust pesticide. The hand-held model has a tube with a flat end and a hopper with a crank that you turn to disperse the dust. A pump-type duster that resembles a bicycle pump is useful for spraying the undersides of the leaves.
Read the directions for using pesticides before starting. Although printed in small type, always follow the instructions to the letter.
Another weapon against garden pests is insecticidal soaps, which contain fatty acids that kill harmful insects on contact. Some come ready to apply in a pump sprayer bottle, while others must be mixed with water. Directions for each product will specify which pests they control, how frequent to apply. And they also tell where to apply such as directly on the insect or on the underside of the leaves.
Be careful of the plants downwind that might be affected when spraying or dusting on any pesticide. Pesticides should be applied when there little or no wind so there is no chance of over spray. Early morning or at dusk are the best times.
AN Ounce of Prevention
Keeping your yard and garden clean and wells maintained can avoid a lot of problems . Don’t let diseased or dead plants lie on the ground. Pull weeds when they sprout. Rotting plant parts, vegetables, and falling blossoms should be picked up for they can be breeding ground for grubs and aphids.
A lookout should be kept for damaging insects. Take action at first sight. Damaged or chewed leaf or discolored plant are often the first alert to pests. They are not always easy to see. Inspect your plants frequently and keep a close watch.
If an unknown insect infests your plant, capture one in a jar. Take it to your local county extension office for identification. Or take it to your local nursery or garden center where someone can probably tell you what it is and what you need to attack it.
Using Bugs to Get Bugs
Beneficial insects and organisms in the soil can be used to ward off bad bugs. An excellent alternative to using synthetic chemical pesticide is to use this approach. Soil insect larva can be attack by nematodes that are naturally occurring microscopic organisms. Nematodes are a natural parasite of insects and will insects that feed on roots of plants. Nematodes will not harm plants, humans, animals, birds, and beneficial insects. Symbiotic bacterium is carried by nematodes into a host and then released. The cycle continues as the host dies and another nematode breeds there to leave and find other insect hosts. One commercial product is Bio-Safe. The granule formulation is water-dispersible for easy use. The granules mixed with water can be applied as a solution using a hose end sprayer. Be sure the soil is moist before an application is made, then should be watered in lightly after application. If rainfall does not occur, then water every 3 to 4 days .