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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Gonzales

Beating The Bugs

Now that the weather is warming up let's talk pest control!

Early detection and response to insects in your garden are crucial! You want to aim to catch insects at early stages and find egg problems before they hatch. This means the more time you spend inspecting your plants, the more you will have to harvest. Your biggest culprits are going to be worms, snails, and slugs.

Did you know that there is such a thing as good insects for your garden? I didn't! When I first started, I thought all insects in your garden were harmful; how could you have good insects? The fact is that good soil will have a balance of both good and harmful insects. We can more effectively address the issues by understanding which ones are good and bad and why they target certain plants.

Insects are attracted to plants that are already stressed or unhealthy. This is a good indicator that something is wrong with your plant and figuring out what is wrong. There can be many things going on. The plant can be too dry or wet, need fertilizer, maybe a poor variety choice, or may be planted at the wrong time.

What Are The Bugs Trying To Tell US?

Harlequin Bugs - These bugs love radishes, greens, and broccoli. When they are swarming these vegetables in the spring, this is a good indicator that these cool-season vegetables need to go into the compost bin.

Aphids - These bugs indicate that your plant needs more nitrogen.

Spider Mites - These bugs indicate that the lack of moisture is stressing your plant.

You can curtail the bug attacks by managing what your plants lack (listen to the bugs!).

A Natural Pest Repellent

Seaweed is a natural pest repellent and a great source of nutrients for your plants! Yes, I said seaweed. By regularly applying seaweed to the leaves of your plants, not only are you preventing insect infestations, but you are providing a well-balanced diet for healthy plants. This is because of all the nutrients and trace elements that seaweed offers.

Applying the seaweed directly to the leaves will leave a salt residue on the surface that most insects find distasteful. This is also a great way to give leaves that have already been ravaged by bugs the extra nutrients they need to grow healthy leaves to replace the damaged leaves.

Friend or Foe?

Only 2% of all insects are harmful to people and our crops. Resorting to pest control not only kills the 2%, but it kills all the other bugs that are beneficial to our crops and our ecosystem. The beneficial bugs help control the damaging insects.

I highly recommend getting an insect book that will show you all the life stages for both beneficial and harmful insects. Knowing insects in all their forms and stages is essential to maintain helpful insect populations within your garden and home ecosystem and controlling pests.

For example, ladybugs and praying mantis attack and eat harmful insects, so identifying them from eggs to adults is very important!

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