Gardens provide hours of enjoyment and solitude. Regardless of the climate, there are pests that survive by devastating flowers, perennials and vegetables. Experienced gardeners take certain steps to identify and eradicate the pests that present threats to the prized plants. After the first season of active warfare, subsequent years are characterized by anticipating onslaught of hungry visitors.
1. Spend time observing – Hours of hard work are invested in designing and planting the premium garden spaces. Vegetables and flowers exist together in the garden. Early detection of unwanted pests can be addressed more easily than infestations that have taken hold. A sprig taken from a plant can be bagged and taken to a nursery to identify the bugs.
2. Identify good bugs – Ladybugs, dragonflies, spiders, ground beetles, hover flies and green lacewings will eat tons of bad bugs. Aphids, slugs, spider mites and white flies can be eradicated by the presence of enough good bugs in the garden. Bug sprays kill all bugs, so the gardener must realize that there are other approaches besides wiping out all insects in one fell swoop.
3. Learn about plant pairings – Gardening books published before 1950 emphasize the importance of planting groups of flowers and vegetables that “like each other.” Onions and beans do not like each other. Onions and tomatoes do like to grow next to each other in the garden. Appropriate pairings provide natural benefits for growth, soil augmentation and pest repellents.
4. Match herbs to issues – Gardens have limited space, so the gardener must know which problems are present before attempting to solve them. Pictures of insects are readily available through a image search on the internet. Consistent battles with the same garden invaders will guide the annual herb choices.
5. Plant appropriate defenders – Annual garden plans should include the herbs that will provide some natural pest defense for the garden plants. Care and feeding of vegetable plants should not be negated by the hungry invaders just as the crop is ready to pick. Consider these herbs for optimal pest protection.
• Basil – Plant these beautiful and useful plants next to the tomatoes to ward off flies and mosquitoes.
• Coriander – or Cilantro – Aphid infestations on the lettuce will not occur again when cilantro is planted among the lettuce plants.
• Garlic – Fruit trees will not be bothered by borers when garlic is planted nearby. Red spider pests will leave the tomatoes alone.
• Mint – Cabbage worms will stay away if mint is close. Spearmint keeps aphids and ants away from plants.
• Oregano – or sage – Protect cabbage and broccoli plants from the cabbage butterfly, which lays eggs that hatch into cabbage worms. Sage will protect carrots from flies.
• Thyme – Cabbage worms will go away from cabbage plants when thyme is planted close.
• Horehound – Grasshoppers and other leaf eaters will buzz off since this herb tastes awful. Tomatoes will grow better with this herb close by.
• Lavender – Ticks and mice will avoid the flowerbed all together when lavender is planted.
• Rue – Roses will be protected from Japanese beetle attacks. This particular herb can cause allergic reactions, which are similar to poison ivy, for some people.
A well-planned garden will optimize the natural combination of plants to enhance soil and protect plants from nibbling pests. Few chemicals are necessary when the good bugs are cared for throughout the growing season. Experienced gardeners view the garden as an ecosystem that benefits from planning and care year around. Each year offers the opportunity to learn more and embrace the best approach to growing healthy plants and vegetables.