Bugs, Be-gone!!!

Rebecca Tero By Rebecca Tero, 31st Jan 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Gardening>Maintenance

As we begin anticipating and planning out perfect garden, one of the things we don't always plan straightaway for are bugs. Take steps and plan to avoid the problems these pests can cause!

Fight the Bugs Naturally!

None of us feel good about drenching our plants in chemicals over and over to keep the bugs at bay from our garden, but when there are so many, what else are we to do? I'm here to tell you that there can be an easier way---and without all the chemicals.

Diatomaceous Earth

DE (Diatomaceous Earth) is something you can find in almost any hardware store. The dust is so fine, it makes its way into every crack and crevice of the pests and disintegrates them. To apply, fill an old sock or stocking with the Diatomaceous Earth, and slap it against your hand over the plants as you walk down the row. You can also sprinkle it around the base of your plants. Note: This can harm beneficial bugs as well as bad bugs, so be sure to only apply when necessary. Last summer, I was invaded by stink bugs in my tomatoes. I had tried using a commercial insecticide, but it only worked for a little while. I had read about using Diatomaceous Earth, so I figured nothing could be lost by trying. I wasn't exactly sure how much to put, so I just gave my tomato plants a healthy dusting, and it worked like a charm. The very next morning when I went out I thought there were fewer bugs. Two dates later, I was positive there were fewer bugs. I just reapplied it whenever it rained, and those bugs stayed away.

Companion Planting

This is a method many gardeners are now going to. Plant strong herbs such as rosemary, chives, and basil among your other vegetables. Not only with the strong oils deter the bad bugs, but you will also have the added benefit of fresh herbs for your kitchen! This year I was determined to try companion planting, so when I put my veggies in the ground, I inter-planted garlic, chives, marigolds, and basil. I was very impressed with the results. The only bugs I had problems with were a few stink bugs and some tomato worms. All the white flies, leaf hoppers, and aphids seemed to think life was more pleasant elsewhere. Needless to say, I was happy with their decision.

Feed the good bugs!

Plants like marigolds and yarrow can help to attract good bugs to your garden, and these will feed on the eggs and larva of the harmful insects. Another trick if you have an aphid infestation is to squirt some honey or jelly at the base of each plants. This will attract ants, who in turn will fill their sweet tooth with the jelly then streak up the plants to get their fill of protein from the aphids. Because of companion planting, I naturally had fewer bad bugs, but inter-planting marigolds did attract more bees, wasps, and butterflies. I was pleased with the outcome, and hope to try some more this next year.

Attract beneficial predators

Bats and toads can help with bug control in a huge way. A little brown bat can eat as much as 4,000 bugs per night! Build a bat house or two and put a light high up above the garden. The light will attract the bugs, and the bat houses will attract the bats to eat the bugs. A single toad can eat as much as 10,000 insects over the course of a summer. Place terra cotta pots half-buried throughout the garden, and keep a shallow pan of water under some bushier plants. This will help the toads to know you have put out a welcome mat for them! I naturally attract toads and such because of mulching thick with pine straw, and I can tell when there's a visitor in my garden bed. My favorite "visit" was when I had spiders patrolling the top of my eggplants, and two large toads keeping things in order at the bottom. I had very few problems with pests in my eggplant last year thanks to my hopping friends. This year I've been noticing more bats patrolling the air, and I'm getting my bat houses ready to put up. The trick is to put the bat houses up a couple months before planting season.

Extra Tip:

If you must use commercial insecticide, be sure to rotate the different kinds. If you consistently use one insecticide, the bugs in your garden will become immune to it, causing an over-infestation of "mighty bugs." Alternate between three or four, using each one for a full week before changing to another. Again, only use this as needed. All commercial insecticides will kill the good bugs as well as the bad.

Tags

Bug Control, Bug Problems, Garden Planning, Natural Pesticide, Pest Problems

Meet the author

author avatar Rebecca Tero
Certified Master Gardener in LA, student in herbs & nutrition, music teacher, ASL (American Sign Language) enthusiast, Christian Newsletter contributor, and self sufficiency promoter.

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Comments

author avatar Tony Barnes
1st Feb 2013 (#)

That's why I love Colorado Springs...not many bugs. :-)

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