Controlling Insects in the Vegetable Garden

I am an amateur gardener and I am trying to grow a mixture of vegetables. Over the past three years I have been losing vegetables to all sorts of diseases and I am ready to do battle. I am growing: onions, lettuces, potatoes, peas, strawberries, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, green beans, green peppers, and corn.


My green peppers have begun to show tiny brown spots all over the leaves. It also appears I have spotted cucumber beetles and flea beetles. I don't really want to use chemicals, but I will if I have to use. I did use a chemical spray about two weeks ago because of the flea beetles on my potatoes. Please advise.

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By Jenny from Shippensburg, PA

June 12, 20100 found this helpful

Well, I am not an expert, but I have experimented a lot with gardening and I took a permaculture intensive workshop for 2 weeks, which covered a lot of gardening.

Sometimes conditions stress plants which makes it easier for bugs to victimize the plants. How is your drainage, spacing, watering. Is there another area of your yard where plants just do better, regardless?How about your immediate neighbors, whose soil must be similar. Any successful gardeners you can ask for tips or help? Call your local agri college agent.

I've been told to plant 40 percent flowers in amongst veggies. Discourages some bugs, encourages bees which fertilize more, resulting in more produce.

Since it's not clear what to do, for now, I would do two things, and see if it helps. Make a general spray of

water, red pepper/cayenne, garlic, dish soap, some salad oil, a bit of milk and spray all your plants lightly in cooler evening hours. [As for watering in general, water the ground, not the leaves.] Then get a bucket or pail of water with some oil in it so it floats on top, put on plastic gloves if it grosses you out, and go up and down all your plants and look for bugs and toss them in the water; as well look for eggs, and if you see them, pick off the leaves or area where they are growing and throw in water or plastic bag. Put out in garbage can, not in compost, in seal/tightly tied bag.

You can never tell when doing something drudging like that will tip the scales in your favor.

Check the ground. Is there something you think might be encouraging the bugs? I know we all promote mulch, but if you think there is something in your mulch, rake it up and throw it away in garbage so it's not in your yard, and put on another mulch. In general I would think bugs would not like coffee grounds, oyster shell, sand, anything gritty [lightly applied] like peat moss.

Sometimes collars around the base of plants helps.

Even if plant is already in ground there are ways of putting on foil or toilet paper collars. Cut lengthwise and tape.

The one thing we were taught in permaculture was to learn to know your little piece of the earth. Study it, observe it, under different conditions: time of day, time of year, drought, rain, and so on.Get to know your plants. And surprisingly we were told, if it's only a few plants affected, do what you can, but don't agonize. Some plants are just weaker.

And some years are just not great gardening years.

They are expecting major locust infestation in Australia this fall, so perhaps the life of a farmer or gardener is a life of challenge.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

Look at your local garden store for Bioganic. It's made by Green Light. It has organic herb/plant oils in it to discourage bugs of all kinds. The labeling says it is safe on vegetables and flowering plants. We spray it a little when we start to see evidence of bugs chewing up the veggies in our raised planting boxes. So far it has been great. We've also used it for some perennials where we needed to control whitefly infestation and it took a few treatments but finally got them under control.

You can also try planting some bug deterring flowers near your veggies. I believe Marigolds are helpful for that. Also consider purchasing a container of ladybugs if the type of pest you have would be a good match they could possibly help control it.

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June 16, 20100 found this helpful

Go to your state extension website. They will show what your areas are good for. Also there are sites which tell you how to plan and plant your gardens. What should be planted next to what. Natural deterrents. I know planting basil in the tomatoes is great. I keep posting my Epsom salts helps with lot of things, re Bugs, Blights, etc.

If you have an issue, mix your dish soap with water and pour on your plants. Bugs hate that. Plants love it.

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