GARDEN PEST PROBLEMS

The last and most vigilant process is to keep your garden free from pests and dangerous insects that harm the plants. You have to be always vigilant and every day you have to carefully examine all your plants for harmful and dangerous insects and pests. These problem solving guides are intended to help you identify and solve many of the common problems which may adversely affect individual plants, your vegetable garden, or your entire landscape. Use of pesticides and herbicides is one of the options but its use should be done only when the condition is worst. The use of such toxic chemicals is sometimes harmful for your plants and hence avoided as much as possible. However, for most problems, there are safe alternatives, which will work equally as well if you are willing to take a little additional time and effort to control the problem organically. However these methods may not all the time be effective and then you will have to resort to chemical controls. There are many pesticides and herbicides available in the markets which you can use to get rid of the pests.

Firstly, divide your garden into four areas and concentrate on one area at a time. Then begin the task of 'double digging' the entire area, removing roots and rocks simultaneously. Double digging consists of digging a trench the entire width of your garden (or section thereof...) to a depth of two shovels. The removed soil is set off to the side. Then you dig another trench adjoining the first one, but this time you toss the soil into the original ditch. Continue digging, and moving the soil, until you reach the other end of the garden. Place the soil from the first trench into the last, and you are done with this step. Complete 'double digging' the whole garden.

Types of Pests

Armyworms
Armyworms are actually the caterpillar life stage of a moth. Their eggs masses, which may contain several hundred new worms, are deposited on or near plant foods. Each female may deposit several of these clusters. The caterpillar that hatches from the egg is only about one-eighth inch long, but when it is fully grown, it reaches a length of about two inches. The caterpillars usually feed at night and hide in plant litter just above the soil surface during the day. It is sometimes possible to control these bugs using natural predators. Green lacewings, pirate bugs, and egg wasps are somewhat effective in the control of armyworms. However if the infestation is out of control and chemical control become necessary, use pesticides available in the market for their eradication. Read and follow all precautions and directions on the insecticide label before mixing and applying the chemical. Use all pesticides cautiously and sparingly. Remember, that when you are using chemicals in your garden, you are responsible for the side effects of pesticide that may drift to another person's property or plants.

Slugs
Slugs are mostly found in moisture-laden areas. They pose to be a serious problem for your garden and can be very dangerous. A single night crawler can successfully remove an entire row of seedlings from your garden in no time at all leaving you totally dumbfounded and helpless. As slugs wander about, doing their evil little slug deeds, they leave behind them a trail of slime, which amounts to nothing less than a road sign for themselves and every other slug to follow to the grand feast. To make the situation even worse, slugs are hermaphrodites; they all have male and female reproductive systems. Yes, they can mate with themselves, and in the privacy of their own abode, each slug will produce two to three dozen eggs several times a year. The egg clusters look like little piles of whitish jelly BB sized balls. They hatch in anywhere from 10 days to three weeks or longer, and these sluglings canmature to adulthood in as little as six weeks. Destroy the eggs... wherever you find them. Slugs may live for several years, getting larger with proportionately larger appetites each year.

Remember that slugs and snails live in damp and moist areas. So the first step is to keep your garden free from deed and decaying leaves or plants or areas, which are moist thereby, eliminating the areas where these hideous and dangerous pests hide, stay and reproduce. Pulling the weeds from your garden is something you need to do anyway. As you pull each weed, you remove a potential slug outpost. Keep all decaying matter cleaned out of your garden beds. While leaves make good mulch, once they begin to compost they become food and shelter for slugs and snails. Trim the branches of any shrubs, which are lying on the ground. Keep the old leaves and such cleaned out. By doing this you will have destroyed yet another slug haven! Just about anything can become a slug home. Boards, rocks, pots should be kept out of the garden. Keep the lawn edges trimmed and keep changing the places of pots in case you want to keep them in your garden.

Another method of eliminating slugs is hand-to-hand combat. Keep slug pokers stuck around the garden at random. Meet your enemy and you know what to do….. Your weapon is at hand, stab them and finish them off. Another interesting trick is stale beer. Fill a small bowl with stale beer. Put it in the areas where the slugs are active. Stale beer attracts the slugs and they drown. Sprinkling salt on slugs will also result to eliminating these nasty pests. Bait and destroy tactics work. Set a pile of slightly dampened dry dog food in an area frequented by slugs. In the morning and evening visit the feeding station a few times.... slug poker in hand! The sharp edges of crushed eggshells around the plants will cut and kill slugs.

The last method of slug eradication is chemicals, which are effective and ensure their immediate eradication. But at the same time you have to be extra protective steps to insure that the poisons are inaccessible to anything but slugs and snails. These chemicals can also be injurious to children and house pets.

Thus what you have to do to keep your garden free from pests is to devote some of your time every day to check the health and safety of your plants just as you check the health and safety of your family. Don't forget plants are a part of your life and they too need your time and care. Every morning after getting up make it a routine to go into your garden and wish a very good morning to your plants and check if they are doing ok. Touch them and insure them that they are safe and you are going to take care of them. When you water them sing to them or play them some music….. you will be surprised to know that plants love music and Indian classical music is their favorite music. Check out if they are infested with pests and take steps to eliminate them. At night before going to sleep wish them goodnight. Do this and you will see the change ……… your plants will look more fresh and lively and your garden will be a center of attraction.

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