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I’m an organic gardener that avoids even organic chemicals (when possible). It may involve a little more hands on work to conquer these pests but as a home gardener it’s totally doable.
There are several ways to tackle bugs and the major one for me is prevention.
How can you prevent bugs?
Plant Resistant Varieties.
Use chickens or any other insect eating animal.
Attract beneficial bugs. I plant lots of flowers for this purpose.
Use row covers or insect netting.
And last but not least DO NOT be tempted to use pesticides. It will kill off all bugs, bad and good. And you better believe the first ones to return to the scene will be the bad bugs. Just don’t go there.
Let’s talk about individual bugs and some ideas for keeping them under control.
Resistant Varieties: I love lemon squash for summer squash and butternut squash as a winter squash. Now lemon squash is delicious but there are times when I wish I could grow zucchini too. I haven’t found one that is squash bug resistant yet (but I’ll be testing a variety that is suppose to be this year)
I used to squish squash bugs eggs with my fingers but it was time consuming and gross. Then I saw an idea on the internet to use duck tape. It works wonders! The tricks to check the plants at least every other day.
Here is my random eggs and I got one nymph.
Here is what is more commonly seen, the eggs together in a group.
And if you see an adult, get that sucker too!!
When I'm done I fold the tape over so they can't get off then throw them in the trash.
Since we are looking to prevent problems in the garden you need to be present. I try and peruse my garden at least once a day. One day I was looking around and saw this...
Its hard to see in this small picture but the stem was chewed off and fell over. I had cutworms in my garden last year and to prevent them I put plastic cups (bottom chopped off) in the ground an inch or two around each plant. It worked.
In this case, I hadn’t used any protection around the plants so I needed to find the culprit.
Do you see the cutworm? It wasn't sitting out like that. I dug around the base of the stem and found it. Then you have to squish it, or feed it to your chickens (mine weren't interested unfortunately).
Hornworms can cause some major damage on a tomato plant. They usually hang around on tomatoes but one year when they were really bad they got on my peppers too. Just keep and eye out. Again, you need to be out in your garden often to check things out and catch any pest problems that arise early.
You can catch hornworms by looking around where they have eaten leaves and left droppings. They camouflage really well! They love the tender new growth and are easiest to catch at dawn or dusk when the sun is not beating on the plant because they will travel to the top (usually).
If you ever see those white grubs in your soil, chances are those are Japanese beetles. You know what loves grubs? Chickens. Chickens and the garden go hand in hand in my opinion.
This year the Japanese beetles have been really bad here! Thankfully not bad enough to kill any thing though.
My main concern is the damage on my blackberry plants because they fruit on second year canes and my first year canes are getting slaughtered by these guys.
When I see a lot, I grab a bucket of water, add some dish soap and flick them in the bucket with my finger. I also will hold the bucket under them and tap the stem or leaf hard so they fall in. It seems to work keep them under control.
You could also plant some sort of a trap crop to bring the Japanese beetles away from a plant to a crop they prefer over the one your trying to save.
I’m a huge fan of books so if your wanting more good information about organic methods of pest control, click the image below.