How to control bugs from ruining a vegetable garden
Pests, or bugs as we call them, frequently attack gardens. It is no surprise to find leaves of a particular plant eaten, or stems of some chewed away, or the entire garden shockingly razed to nothing overnight in a rage of locust feeding frenzy.
Whatever the reason, here is a guide to help a gardener be aware of and control bugs that frequently visit, feed on and damage vegetable crops.
It takes a bug to catch a bug
Some insects and garden bugs are beneficial to the garden. They feed on tinier bugs and keep their areas pest free, thereby helping better the productivity of the garden. Breed good bugs so as to control the increase of the bad bugs.
Birds and bird houses
Birds feed on insects. Building bird houses to attract birds to a garden have benefited many a gardener. However, care should be taken that birds which harm the garden are not made comfortable. They can destroy the fruits just prior to the harvest season.
Use insecticidal soap
The use of Insecticidal Soap is an effective organic method to control garden pests. It can be used against nematodes, crawlers, insects, weevils, bugs of all sizes and many other garden-preying predator.
At times, all that is required in a garden to clear the plants of bugs is simply picking them from the leaves or stems and destroying them. This is a good measure against the macroscopic and clearly visible bugs.
Shake the plant
Some bugs can be removed from plants by just shaking the plant. Tilt container plants over sheets of newspaper to collect insects that fall off when shaken. These bugs can then be destroyed.
Use saw dust
Spreading saw dust around plants that are attacked by crawlers are a sure way to block movement. It offers resistance to movement for bugs like slugs and snails, there by controlling the area of garden damage.
Spread oat bran
Oat bran is lethal to many bugs. Green Garden Experts advice the spread or sprinkling of oat bran around plants that are frequently damaged by slugs and snails.
Use physical barriers
Use cages to keep big pests from reaching plants.
Use nets to cover fruit or to protect areas of a garden where the plants are most prone to animal attacks.
Use removable plastic cut-out discs around the base of stems to protect bugs from boring its way down to the roots of plants.
Build walls / fences around a garden.
Use organic repellents
Chemicals like pyrethrin, pyrethroids, and sulphur based compounds like Bordeaux and Lime-sulphur mixtures are good against many bugs that cause bacterial and viral infections in plants. Some of these chemicals can be dangerous to humans so care has to be taken while handling them.
Extracts from plant matter like garlic extract and neem extract are good repellents that keep away many plant pests. They work on the ‘undesirable smell’ principle which many animals and insects find unfavourable and repelling. Garlic and neem extracts are easy to make and can be prepared at home.
Using Glue Sprays are an effective measure that can be adopted. All that is required is some flour boiled with a little water to make a sticky paste and then diluted with enough cold water to form a free-flowing liquid that can be used as a spray. When sprayed on insects, it can cause suffocation and immobility of the insect, thereby brining about its death. Make sure that glue liquid is not poured on the under side of leaves as it can block plant stomata from working.
Uproot the garden
This is a last minute, desperate measure to resort to when every thing else fails. in order to protect your garden from further bug infestation that may take over the next harvest too, the current set of plants will have to be totally uprooted and burned so that there is no trace of bugs left in the garden. Treat the soil with organic pesticides and check the soil strength before planting a fresh garden. It is better to lose one year’s harvest than stand to lose many more.