Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Protecting Your Garden From Unwanted Guests The Safe Way

Now is a good time to start preparing for the unwanted critters that invade our gardens every year.  Keeping a few simple products on hand will eliminate panic later.  I have tried several of these options and they work well.  I try to stay as far away as possible from dangerous pesticides.  I garden not only for the pleasure, but also for the reward of eating the fruits of my labors.

Squash Bugs
Squash Bugs multiply quickly and destroy swiftly.  The eggs appear as white specks on the bottom side of the squash leaf.  Once hatched the adult bug is brown, approximately 1/2 inch long, with stick legs and wings.  If your squash leaves begin to turn brown and the flowers are wilting for no reason you may have squash bugs.  One effective treatment is to apply a paper ground cover (such as newspaper) around the squash plant.  The bugs are attracted to the paper during the evening hours.  Collect the paper in the morning and discard.  You can also purchase Neems oil from a local nursery.  This is a natural vegetable oil produced from the Neem plant and can be very useful on various unwanted insects.  Apply the Neem Oil according to package directions,

Grub Worm
Grub Worms not only attack grass, but the roots of several vegetable plants also. Grubs can destroy an entire potato crop by feeding of the potato.  Not only will grub worms attact vegetation, but attract unwanted birds as well.  It is best to address grub worms while they are still in the larvae stage in mid summer.  Injecting the infected area with Neems Oil or Nematodes is effective when applied properly.  Nematodes are organic microscopic organism that infest the soil killing the worm.  If there are specific areas of brown patches in you lawn you may have grub worms.  Removing a small patch of the infected area is the best way to detect the pest.

Tomato Horn Worm
Tomato Horn Worms are large green worms that blend well into plants.  No only are the unattractive creatures but they are very destructive.  Don't let the name fool you.  It's not only the tomato plant these critters attack they thrive on several plants.  I went to my garden one morning to find all four of my pepper plants had been eaten by three of these varmints.   They reproduce quickly and are troublesome to get rid of.  The three most effective remedies I have used are easy.  Spread cornmeal around the base of plants.  Tomato worms can't handle the grain.  Spray the bugs with a salt water mixture.  I use two tablespoons to 1/2 gallon of water.  Treating your soil with pure soap (not detergent) is also effective,.  Wasps are recommended to protect from this creepy crawler.  I've personally not tried this technique.  I'm not a big fan of wasps.

One of the most effective forms of pest prevention is to regularly rotate your gardens soil.  Treating a garden with natural means assures your final product is safe and healthy to eat. 

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