Dealing With Pests In Your Vegetable Garden

By: Dave Truman

Unfortunately, you're not the only one who loves your fresh, home grown vegetables. Insects, rabbits, mice, deer and other pests do too. And they eat more than just the vegetable itself, often munching on leaves and even roots. That takes away not only the food, but the ability of the plant to create more. Very greedy, these little creatures.

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.

Look for pest resistant seeds. Don't be afraid of genetically modified seeds, and select only healthy plants if you transplant.

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.

Water your garden in the morning to minimize fungus and other problems. Growths can occur on vegetables, similar to grass, when excessive moisture is present on plant leaves during nighttime temperatures. Letting your plants soak up needed moisture with adequate time for drying before the temperature drops will prevent such growths. Often times a weakened plant cannot survive minor infestation, so keep your plants disease free to minimize insect damage. A healthy plant can fight infestation.

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.

Remove any part or plant that has been attacked in order to prevent spreading. Just as with animals and humans, pests spread in part by contact. This isn't necessary at the first sign of a problem, but when it reaches the level where you can't save the plant, it's best to save the others.

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.

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Thinking about growing a garden this year but aren't sure where to start? Whether you're gardening vegetables or gardening plants, you'll find lots of helpful information on the Gardeners Atlas website. Visit for more information.

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