Category Archives: vegetable gardens

Keeping Insects and Pests out of your Garden

For “green thumbs,” this is the most anticipated time of year – spring planting time!  It is a true labor of love to nurture flower gardens filled with annuals and perennials that will eventually pop with color and bring great joy later in the season  Or if veggie gardens are your thing, it is a wonder to watch your seedlings develop into beautiful cukes, tomatoes, peppers, corn, or any wide array of tasty vegetables. This favorite hobby can become a challenge however, if pests begin to run ramped in your gardens and ruin the expected outcome that you waited all season long to see.

There are three primary groups that can have devastating effects in your garden: mammals (like deer and rabbits), insects (like tomato worms), and gastropods (like garden snails and slugs). In past blogs we have discussed methods to keep animals out of your garden. So now, let’s look at some suggestions about other pests from our friends at Home and Garden and the Farmer’s Almanac.  If you would like professional advice, consult Pro-Tech for a plan to combat pests in your yard.

  • Identify the pest and assess the type and amount of damage it may cause. Some insects are actually beneficial because they feed on other, more dangerous pests. For example Ladybugs are beneficial but some insects disguise themselves as this bug and can wreak havoc on your garden.
  • Coffee grounds are a great addition to your garden. They add nitrogen to the soil, they increase the acidity for acid loving plants, and, best of all, a wide range of creatures can’t stand coffee grounds. Slugs hate coffee, cats hate coffee; it’s even sometimes an effective olfactory-based repellent for picky deer.
  • Slugs are some of the most annoying of garden pests. They descend of your garden at night and chew up your plantings. Hand picking slugs and snails is an effective natural control, but it must be done early in the morning. As the sun rises, they retreat to hide under cool debris, and can be impossible to find. When hand picked, they can be dropped into a bucket of brine or salt. Copper strips can be a good deterrent as they cause a slight electrical charge as the slug slides over it.
  • Tomato horn worms are large (3-4?), pale green caterpillars that strip tomato, eggplant, pepper, and potato plants of new leaves and flower buds. Hand picking is the most effective way to get immediate relief. To rid a garden of repeated infestations, you can use Bacillus Thuringiensis, a bacterium parasite.

 

Vegetable Garden Planning

As we slowly begin to see the light at the end of the snowy tunnel we call winter here in the Northeast, it is time to start thinking about something more pleasant than shovels and snow totals.  It is time to start planning ahead for your veggie garden!   Now is the time to start planning (whether on paper or just in your mind) some of the key parts of your garden before you find yourself in the middle of planting season.  Just what are some things to consider when planning a veggie garden and how can you prepare now so that you have a successful garden come summer?

  • Site Location – This should be your first consideration.  If this is your first veggie garden, consider a sunny spot in your yard with good drainage and soil that is not rocky or sand filled.  If this is not your first time planting, ask yourself if last years location was fertile and decide if a new location is better. Be sure you have a water source near your garden in the case of drought.
  • What to plant – Think about the vegetables that you and your family enjoy the most.  Keep in mind that vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash keep providing throughout the season — so you may not need many plants to serve your needs. Other vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, and corn, produce only once. You may need to plant more of these. This could be a fun family activity to choose the veggies you will plant and care for all season.
  • Size of garden – Now that you have an idea of what you will plant, you need to decide on how large a space you need, Most beginners find a 10 x10 garden, that is well-weeded and maintained is more than enough.  Some gardeners start in containers that can be moved into direct sunlight when needed.
  • Prepare the soil – Fertile, well prepared soil is necessary for a successful garden. The exact type of soil is not so important as that it be well drained, well supplied with organic matter, reasonably free of stones, and moisture retentive. Turning the soil completely, and  fertilizing can help.

Now comes the fun part- planting and watching your veggies grow!  Check back in the coming months for tips on how to keep your garden growing throughout the season.