When it comes to protecting your plants from pests, there are a lot of ways to accomplish it. But which are actually proven techniques and which ones are just folk wisdom that really don’t work? This article will discuss the top ten pest prevention tips for a variety of bugs that target plants and give you techniques for making sure that pests never infest your plants in the first place, which is a much easier method than trying to get rid of them after the fact. As the folk saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and in this case, it definitely holds true. Here are ten tips for keeping pests away from your garden, plants and greenhouse.
Tip #1: Don’t plant too many of the same plant in a row. Instead, mix plants from different families and try to give off confusing scents. This will make it very difficult for insects to pinpoint where their favorite plants are. For example, plant onions next to peas, plant carrots next to broccoli or plant flowering plants next to ones that are edible, like tomatoes, basil and peppers. At the very least, add a few plants with strong flavors mixed in with your flowerbeds to protect them.
Tip #2: Cover your crops and keep them weeded. If you can cover your crops, this is a great way to keep out the pests. A plastic mesh cover will do wonders for keeping the pests out of your garden, and it is one of the least expensive ways to combat pests. Also, you want to keep the weeds out of your garden before you cover it, because a healthy garden is much less likely to attract pests in the first place. Weed your garden each and every week and make sure that the soil is clean.
Tip #3: Get some insects to take care of the problem for you. If you have a pest problem, introduce some insects into your garden or greenhouse that are predators and look at the pest insects as prey. There are many beneficial insects out there, and you can usually buy several different kinds at your local garden center or nursery. Small wasps can take care of caterpillars that are destroying your plants, ladybugs can take care of spider mites and there are many other species of insects that can clean up your garden for you. You’ll just have to determine exactly what your pest problem is and then find the right insects that will remove them for you. Also, make sure that you are planting flowers that your beneficial insects can take advantage of, like mint, chamomile and sweet alyssum.
Tip #4: Grow decoy plants so that the pests will flock to them first.
Tip #5: Then remove the insects or full decoy plants as needed.
This goes against the above tip to keep your garden weeded, but if you allow one weed to grow in the middle of your crops, the pests will choose it instead. There are many different plants out there that you can plant as a decoy that will attract a specific pest, so you’ll have to do your research to find out which one or ones you need. Here are a few to get you started.
Plant redroot pigweed to protect tomato plants against striped blister beetles.
Use arugula to attract flea beetles and protect your potatoes, eggplant and brassicas.
Use any bright yellow plant to attract aphids and keep them away from your tomato plants.
Remember, once you have gotten your pests to your decoy plant, you are going to need a way to remove them from your garden. Either remove the entire plant, or find a way to trap them so that you can remove them and take them somewhere far away.
Tip #6: Set up some insect traps. The previous tip might be combined with this tip if you need a way to remove them, but for many pests, you can actually set up a stand-alone trap without having to resort to planting decoys. Use the attraction to shade that some pests have, like earwigs, pill bugs, slugs and snails and then remove the trap and get rid of the pests every morning.
Tip #7: Be aware of what your planting and what your pests actually are. For example, did you know that there are plants out there that are extremely insect-resistant? If you do your research, you can find plants that are just unattractive to most pests. Also, there are other pests than just insects that you should be aware of. You probably know that gophers, rabbits and other critters can cause havoc in your garden, but there are many other pests around as well.
Tip #8: Use a pesticide, but don’t use the ones that are chemically based. There are organic, natural pesticides out there now for just about any kind of pest, and they are generally harmless to the plants that you are spraying them on. Check with your local nursery and find out what natural pesticides you can use against a particular pest.
Tip #9: Organic mulches are great for preventing weeds, keeping the soil moist and improving the quality of your garden, but they are also home to all kinds of pests like pill bugs, sow bugs and slugs. If you are mulching, keep it at least two inches from the young seedlings or plants that you have transplanted.
Tip #10: Finally, cleaning up your garden can help with a pest problem. Get rid of fallen and rotten fruit, remove dead flowers and plants at the end of the growing season. While this might not seem like it will help, you would be surprised how much a little sprucing up at the end of the growing season can do when spring comes around again. That’s because larvae can live in these dead plants and rotten fruits and you are going to have a new cycle of infestation if you don’t clean them up once a year.