The growing season is upon us once again. By now you have planted your gardens and are waiting for the plants to appear. Undoubtedly, some of you early birds have already harvested some veggies, while others have some beautiful flowers. Soon it will be time for the return of the pesky pests. Hopefully not, but you need to be ready for them.
In dealing with pests, I try to stay away from chemicals. The best thing to do is to have your plants be as strong and healthy as possible in order to survive the invasion of the pests, which varies from year to year. The overall best remedy against pests is plain water. Also, remember it isn't necessary to kill all of the pests, only those causing you to be unable to be unable to enjoy your plantings.
I find that I can get rid of some pests by picking them off with my hands, but my solution is still maintaining healthy plants and using lots of plain water.
Studies have shown that citrus peelings deter insects. It appears the fumes are strong enough to kill or scare off flies, fire ants, fleas and wasps. Some gardeners put orange peelings in flower pots to eliminate fungus gnats. Crushed garlic and chili can be made into a spray to be used against veggie eaters.
When you are checking your plants to see what problems they may have, take along your magnifying glass. This way you'll know for sure to know what may be wrong.
Since I continue to emphasize that plain water is best, a strong jet with a pressure nozzle will wash aphids off shrubs and clear spider mites off evergreens. This is a good way to get rid of pests when you first spot them.
Sticky substances can be used to trap insects. Even masking tape, or duct tape, can be used with the sticky side up. The tape can be wrapped around a board and placed where the insects congregate. Pests can winter over, so be sure to rake under shrubs so mildew does not form. Aluminum foil under squash plants seems to repel insects. Hold the foil down with a rock.
There are plants that seem to invite insects and some that repel them. Among the plants that repel are: marigolds, rosemary, tansy, garlic, onions, chives, catnip, mint, hyssop and other strong-scented plants.
Pages could be written about the different pests, but for this article I will pick only two: aphids and grasshoppers.
APHIDS: There are many different colors of aphids. If you could see them with a magnifying glass, they have six legs and a pair of antenna. Aphids are mostly female and start producing babies after about three days. They emit a sticky substance called honeydew as they work over your plants.
Wash your plants to get rid of aphids and remember that ladybugs eat aphids, so they are always good to have around.
GRASSHOPPERS: These are probably the best known garden pest. We have heard about them since Biblical times. Grasshoppers lay eggs on bare dirt. If possible, turn the bare dirt you have several times, even in winter.
Two years ago, we had huge grasshoppers where I live and this past year we had loads of very tiny grasshoppers. Both sizes were extremely destructive. I recently visited with our County Agent, Tracy Drummond, to see if some miracle had happened to help us get rid of grasshop-