Are the vegetables in your garden under attack? Summer weather can bring hungry garden pests to feed on luscious green leaves.
Alabama Extension Entomologist Ayanava Majumdar said there are ways to curb pest damage in the garden through the use of integrated pest management (IPM) practices.
“There are many ways to integrate pest management practices in the garden,” Majumdar said. “Extension professionals have outlined organic and conventional pest management options to help homeowners and gardeners protect their garden crop.”
Healthy soil is one of the plant’s first lines of defense against garden pests. Adding organic matter to the soil before planting will help provide growing plants with essential nutrients. Healthy plants in the garden can delay insect infestation and compensate for pest feeding.
Integrated Pest Management practices include alternatives to using pesticides as a first resort. By exercising other options for curbing pest infestations in the garden, beneficial insects and natural enemies of garden pests are able to take care of the problem.
Other methods of pest management include crop rotation, companion planting and diversified planting. Planting vegetables in different sections of the garden each year can disrupt the insect life cycle and limit pest damage. Companion planting is another way to limit pest damage in the garden. This method of pest management strategically places insect-repelling plants near crops that benefit from their effects. For example, planting basil near tomato plants can help deter tomato horn worms.
Majumdar has studied trap cropping for many years and strongly recommends individual investigations into alternative pest management tactics.
“One of the best use of companion planting and trap cropping is weed and insect control,” Majumdar said. “Insect pests get confused in diversified planting situation and works great in gardens and small farms.”
Similar to companion planting, diversified planting strays from traditional rows in the garden and intermingles different plants in every row. This planting method makes it more difficult for pests to move from plant to plant, and exposes the pests to predators as they search for the next host plant.
For more information about pest occurrences, management recommendations, and the latest IPM information, follow the Alabama Vegetable IPM page on Facebook.
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