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Controlling Pests In Your Vegetable Garden

Jun 4, 2008
Pests, deer, rabbits, mice, and insects all love your fresh, home grown vegetables. And they go a step further, munching on leaves and roots. These creatures not only eat the vegetable but also prevent the plant from producing.

Vigilance is required to keep your vegetable garden free from pests. Combining various methods makes this chore easier.

Start your pest control before your vegetables begin to grow by: properly preparing the soil, selecting healthy plants, and watering appropriately. Keeping your soil pH near 6.5 can help, as well. By fertilizing the soil properly, your plants will grow well, and will have the required resistance to fend off pests.

Seek out seeds that are pest resistant. Don't fear genetic modification programs, since one goal is to create just such seeds. If you transplant, select healthy plants.

Watch for pests and harmful insects. Chemical sprays, however, are not your first solution. Gardening problems can often be controlled biologically, but you must be knowledgeable about the organisms present in your garden. Some of these organisms actually aid your plants in healthy growth.

Assassin bugs will eat aphids, caterpillars, Japanese beetles and other pests. Stink bugs will feed on potato beetles and some caterpillars. Ladybugs eat aphids, mealybugs and spider mites. These are just a few examples out of dozens.

Watering in the morning will help. It keeps fungus and other problems to a minimum. Just as with grass, vegetables can be prone to growths that are encouraged by nighttime temperatures and excess moisture on the leaves. Allowing the plant to soak up needed water early, then dry before the temperature drops, will help prevent such problems. Keeping them disease free minimizes insect damage, since a weakened plant will often not survive minor infestations. A healhty plant can fight them off.

Prevent the spread of insects by planting different species. Pest populations may explode when numerous similar plants are spaced close together. These pests either gather together or reproduce more quickly. And eradicating a big population of pests is more difficult. They can ruin your plant before you are able to get rid of them entirely.

Just as with animals and humans, pests spread in part by contact. Removing any part or plant that has been infected is not always necessary, but may be your only means of saving other healthy plants if you cannot save the infected plant.

Building a good fence with narrow mesh at the base will help keep larger animals - rabbits and deer, for example - from getting to your vegetables.

But when those efforts are not enough, don't be afraid to use an approved commercial insecticide. Chemistry has come a long way in the past 50 years and they're designed to eradicate insect infestations while still being safe for humans to contact and eat the vegetables.
About the Author
Are you thinking about planting a garden this year but aren't sure where to start? Whether you're gardening plants or gardening vegetables, you'll find lots of helpful information on the Gardeners Atlas website. Visit http://www.gardenersatlas.com for more information.
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