Share this Post
Garden pest control can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially when bad bugs are chomping down on precious produce you have worked so hard to grow. Luckily for you and all growers, there is a simple system that you can use to know what steps to take. This process, known as Integrated Pest Management, is a systematic step-by-step action plan to combat and control garden pests. We use this method for our organic garden pest control. On our certified organic farm, it’s how we make concise plans on how to manage a particular pest.
Garden Pest Control Steps
When using integrated pest management, always follow these basic steps, which begin with those that are least impactful to the environment.
How to Prevent Pests in the Vegetable Garden
Preventing pests from becoming an issue in the garden is the first and most impactful step you can take to have a healthy garden. There are simple steps you can take each season to ensure that you can control garden pests while protecting the environment from unnecessary insecticides and chemicals. The first thing a gardener should do is clean up garden debris around raised beds or in–ground vegetable patches. By cleaning up fallen down and rotting garden debris, insects have fewer places to hide.
The second step is that gardeners should monitor their plants daily to check for signs of pest infestation. Catching an infestation early on makes it a lot easier to control. Many pests like aphids are easy to spray off with a strong jet of water.
A keen and observant gardener knows that you can use nature to control garden pests. A well-known example is that ladybugs like to feast on aphids. By allowing ladybugs to thrive in your garden, they will help take care of your aphid issues. Biological controls are a long-term solution for pest issues and should be employed for a diverse and healthy garden.
Good Garden Bugs
All insects have a place in the garden. They all perform some critical function that keeps your garden going. Unfortunately, those functions may be for them to mow down your plants. Don’t worry; if you can keep the good bug populations in balance with the bad bugs, your garden will thrive.
Here is just a quick look at which bugs are predators that eat or control garden pests.
Cultural control refers to the methods and gardening practices that a grower uses to influence the pest population. These can be things like being careful not to overwater or overfertilize, planting strong varieties, and planting during the best time of the year. When a plant is grown at the correct time of year and has adequate sunlight, moisture, and nutrients, it can usually fend off pests by itself.
Mechanical and Physical Controls
Garden pest control is not typically achieved by one method alone. It is usually a combination of multiple methods that make a garden thrive. After employing biological and cultural controls, gardeners can use mechanical or physical controls. An example of this can be something as simple as using a row cover to keep cabbage looper worms off cabbages. Mechanical and physical controls refer to any method that is non-chemical and keeps pests off your plants. In the summer, we practice mechanical and physical controls by picking tomato hornworms off our plants.
Last Resort: Chemical Control
If all other methods have been employed, and there are still issues with garden pest control, the last resort is to use chemical control. On our organic farm, we rarely use any chemical to control pests because the previous steps are sufficient. When we do, we use certified organic sprays and follow directions precisely. It is imperative that you follow the direction for the most effective results.