Garden Pest Control Starts at Home
Timing is everything, and that’s just as true in pest control as it is in comedy. Pests can generally be classified in three groups: plants (weeds), insects, and mammals (usually rodents). In the garden, all three can take a toll on plant productivity and health.
This time of year, the long sunny days provide the best growing months and the most likely outbreaks of all types of pests.
The number one pest control issue is probably the most benign appearing: weeds. Not only do growing weeds eat up nutrients, space and water meant for garden veggies and flowers, but they attract their insect pests. To control weeds, shallow cultivation of soil works well when they are small; later, hand pulling is the best bet.
Insect pests can be handled in a variety of ways, including natural defenses, hand picking (especially caterpillars) and the “nuclear” option of insecticides. Each insect pest species should be identified and researched for the most appropriate removal method, but a relatively recent addition to the shelves of pesticides is fairly non-toxic and may be considered a good all-around solution. The active ingredient is Spinosad, and some formulated products are approved for organic gardening.
For mammal pests, use your keenest of senses – your eyes -- to note if flowers or plants are nibbled. Barriers, regular patrolling, cats, and traps are all useful in your arsenal against these critters.