7 Simple Strategies to Prevent Garden Pests

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Purple pak choi

Pests are a common challenge but that doesn’t mean they need to gain the upper hand. In fact, in most cases there are ways to prevent your crops from getting infested in the first place.

Here, then, are seven simple, savvy strategies to help you prevent garden pests.

1. Grow Resistant Varieties

Our first strategy is to make life easier for yourself by selecting varieties that are known to have some resistance to common pests. Spend a little time researching seed catalogs for suitable varieties to reduce pest problems later on. Look out for carrot-fly-resistant carrots, for example, or seek out potatoes that shake off eelworm attacks.

2. Confuse Pests

Interplant crops with one another. This confuses passing pests because they will find it harder to home in on their preferred crop. You can interplant different vegetables, or mix up vegetables with herbs or flowers to create a more diverse – and confusing – planting scheme. Obfuscate some more by growing vegetables with colored leaves, like purple varieties of cabbage or kale, that insects won’t expect.

“Interplanting
Interplanting can help to disguise vulnerable vegetables from pests

3. Plant Outside of Peak Times

Another deceptively simple strategy is grow vegetables outside of the peak times for their pests. Take the example of flea beetles, which chew tiny holes in the leaves of brassicas. Their activity peaks in midsummer. So grow vegetables such as Asian greens and mustards in the fall, when fewer beetles are about. You can also plant before a pest arrives. This works well with fast-growing early peas, helping them to dodge the destructive attention of pea moths.

4. Grow Out of the Way

Physically move vegetables out of harm’s way. Grow carrots and cabbage family crops in pots at least 18in (45cm) above ground, well out of the way of low-flying carrot flies and cabbage root flies. Raised pots also reduce problems with slugs and other soil-dwelling pests.

Starting seedlings off under cover in pots is a reliable way to avoid early setbacks from the likes of pigeons and slugs. By the time they’re transplanted your plants will be bigger, sturdier and more capable of withstanding minor attacks.

“Growing
Growing crops in containers keeps them out of reach of some pests

5. Use Physical Barriers

Make good use of barriers to physically separate pests from plants. Insect mesh or floating row covers will stop just about any pest from getting near your hard-won crops. Allow covers to rest on the plants or support them on hoops. Secure them around the edges so pests can’t gain access by just walking in at soil level. Covers are a great solution for caterpillar-prone brassicas and for barring entry to the likes of carrot fly, aphids and squash bugs.

6. Attract Beneficial Bugs

Ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, lacewings – just a few of the beneficial bugs that help control pests by either eating them or hatching their young inside them. Tempt more beneficial bugs into your garden by growing lots of the flowers they love, like cosmos, sweet alyssum, dill, yarrow and many more besides. Grow them among or immediately next to your vegetables for maximum impact.

“Beneficial
Enlist the help of beneficial bugs to control garden pests

7. Keep Plants Healthy

Finally, make sure plants are as healthy as they can be, because strong, healthy plants are less susceptible to pests. Stress-free plants have their own pest defenses which more often than not allow them to see off pests without help from us. So grow plants in the right conditions, keep them well fed and water well in dry weather. Don’t forget to feed the soil too – with plenty of well-rotted organic matter such as compost – to promote a thriving root system that supports healthy growth above ground.

Those pesky pests keep us on our toes don’t they! But arm yourself with the right strategies and you can keep them well away from your crops. Please share your own pest prevention techniques down below - how do you take care of common pests and how successful are you?

< All Guides

Garden Planning Apps

If you need help designing your vegetable garden, try our Vegetable Garden Planner.
Garden Planning Apps and Software

Vegetable Garden Pest Warnings

Want to Receive Alerts When Pests are Heading Your Way?

If you've seen any pests or beneficial insects in your garden in the past few days please report them to The Big Bug Hunt and help create a warning system to alert you when bugs are heading your way.

Show Comments



Comments

 
"So helpful, thank you!"
Shirley Paul on Saturday 10 August 2019

Add a Comment

Add your own thoughts on the subject of this article:
(If you have difficulty using this form, please use our Contact Form to send us your comment, along with the title of this article.)

 
   
(We won't display this on the website or use it for marketing)



Captcha


(Please enter the code above to help prevent spam on this article)



By clicking 'Add Comment' you agree to our Terms and Conditions