Insect pests can wreak havoc on your garden. Some insects, such as bees and ladybugs are a necessary part of successful gardening. These beneficial insects provide for plant pollination and the control of unwanted attacks by the more harmful insects.
Pollination by bees is important to allow your plants to produce seeds for next year’s crop. Some plants are by choice bred to discourage seed production as in the case of parthenocarpic fruit. But for the most part, seed production is a part of the growing cycle of most crops.
Some growers even place bee hives near their garden or field to promote pollination. At other times, however, this is not needed because bees are naturally attracted to the flowers produced by plants.
A problem arises when other insect pests attack crops, leaving leaves riddled with holes where insects have chewed and sucked the life from the plants. Cut worms, leaf cutters, and aphids are among the many insects that may attack your vegetable garden. In the past, chemical pesticides were used to combat these insect attacks. People later realized that these chemicals were harmful not only to the insect pests, but were also harmful to humans.
With the advent of organic gardening, many growers chose to forego the application of chemical pesticides in an attempt to produce plants that do not introduce harmful chemicals into the environment. Instead, they choose to remove by hand any visible signs of insect attacks. This can be quite time consuming and involves regularly monitoring crops for the presence of harmful insects.
Later, less labor intensive means of controlling insects were introduced, including the application of pepper, onion and garlic based solutions that were less intrusive and much more practical to use. A liquid spray solution can be made by adding a tablespoon of dish washing liquid, a chopped large onion, a few cloves of garlic, two tablespoons of vegetable oil and three chopped red peppers to one gallon of water. Allow the solution to steep for 24 hours. Strain with cheesecloth and use a spray bottle to apply the solution to the leaves and stems of the plants. This solution has been shown to deter most harmful insects.
There are many different recipes with many different ingredients that you can add to the solution, but dish washing liquid, vegetable oil, onions, garlic and peppers and most often used. The onions, pepper and garlic are not very appetizing to insects. The dish washing liquid and vegetable oil help the solution adhere to the plants. Do an internet search for “organic pesticides” to find recipes for natural pesticide recipes.
You may need to re-apply the soap solution several times over the growing season. This is necessary because rain may wash the solution away. Also, several different insects may attack your plants over the growing period making it important to reapply the pesticide solution say, once a month during the summer.
There are also many organic pesticides available from your local gardening store if you do not want to make your own. These pesticides are safe and environmentally sensitive.
Another solution to dealing with invasive insect pest is to use row covers over your plants. Row covers also help protect your crop from attacks by birds. These can be made using wire clothes hangers to form a hoop over your plants. The hoops can then be draped with thin sheeting material such as cheesecloth or thin wire or plastic screening material. This will protect your crops and also reduce the more intense rays of sunlight during the hotter part of the day. Row covers are available from your local gardening store or online.
There are many ways to protect your crop from attacts by insect pests. Avoid using dangerous chemical pesticides on your plants. Apply organic pesticides and use row covers to protect your crops and to protect the environment.