Choose Insect-Resistant Plants
The battle against pests begins with prevention. Before you even thinking about your defense, be proactive by choosing pest-resistant plants for your garden. Varieties that are native to the region are better able to withstand pest damage. Border plants like marigolds can repel anything from aphids to rodents. Garlic dissuades many critters from trespassing in your beds.
Weak and sickly plants are prone to more insect invasions, so test your soil for nutrient deficiencies at the beginning and end of each growing season. When you close your garden for the season, vigorously turn over the garden soil to destroy any pupae residing there.
You may be attracting pests without even realizing it. Over fertilizing makes plants grow large very quickly, but that's exactly what could be attracting pests like aphids and leaf-hoppers, which seek plants with high nitrogen-levels and new growth. Stick to organic fertilizers that release nutrients slowly rather than all at once.
Battle By Hand
If you can spot 'em, you can squash 'em. Believe it or not, many bugs can be battled with just the pinch of your fingers. Intruders that are more—er—substantial, like a tomato hornworm, can be finished off with a dunk in soapy water. Invasive aphids can be washed away with a standard garden hose; you'll need to repeat for a few days until they're history.
The Good Guys
One way to control the pest is to introduce beneficial insects in your garden. Natural predators, such as ladybugs, lacewings and ground beetles, feed on aphids, larvae, fruit worms, and other harmful insects. So, before you spray on the insecticide, try planting pollen and nectar flowers in your garden to attract these 6-legged allies.
Insecticidal soaps and oil can quash infestations of aphids, mealybugs, or spider mites. Just dilute about two teaspoons per pint and thoroughly coat the plant. When spraying oil, be sure to apply it while you water the plants. For maximum effectiveness, you'll need to reapply regularly.
If the most troublesome pests in your garden are of the four-legged kind, try one of these natural tricks next time: soap, human hair, and moth balls deer away from your garden. Simply hang these next to your crops, approximately three feet off the ground. Sprinkling a little Tabasco sauce prevents groundhogs from munching on garden greens.
If you've already tried everything setting a live trap is a last resort. Trap and release small critters a few miles away from your garden to discourage them from returning. Bait the traps with fruit, specifically apples if you're dealing with rabbits. You can trap insects as well; aphids and white flies will be attracted to ordinary fly paper.
Try these safe and easy ways to keep pests off your plants.
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