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Pest Control
by Diana Roberts
Category: Disease-Pests
I know itís early in the year to be thinking about keeping pests away from your vegetable garden, but it seems to me that spring is a pretty busy time and not the time to scrounge around for answers.
Cutworms can be a real headache when it comes to tender new plants. They will chomp your plants off right at the soil line with no thought to how much work you put into them! Before you put those little bedding plants into the ground, take some two inch strips of newspaper and wrap the stem of the plant loosely five or six time. When you transplant, keep half the newspaper above the ground and the other half below. The cutworms cannot chew through the newspaper and the plants will be too big by the time the paper disintegrates. Another trick for keeping cutworms away is to place a two inch nail directly beside each plant as you place them in the soil. Be sure to keep some of the nail above the ground so that you can gather them up when the plants get bigger.
One of the problems you encounter with young plants is small insects that you can hardly see, until they take over. In order to do away with many of these bugs, just brush your hand across the plants several times a day. This works the same as showering your plants with a hose but because they are so small, a hose could destroy the plants. If you have a large number of plants, try using a broom handle to brush across many at the same time.
Potato Beetle
This method also works to keep potato plants free of the potato beetle. Right after you plant your potatoes, mulch the area with straw. Use a broom stick to knock the pinkish-colored larvae off the plants and into the straw. These larvae will get lost in the straw and not be able to find their way back. Sweep the plants a couple times a month to keep these pests at bay.
Panty hose
Did you ever wish there was a way you could get more use out of the panty hose that developed just one little run? Now you can! Panty hose make a great way to protect fruit and vegetables from slugs, birds, earwigs and other nasty creatures. The way this works is you cut the legs off your panty hose and into sections long enough to cover the fruit or vegetables you want to cover. Tie one end, then slip the other end over the produce, just make sure it will fit close, but be large enough to accommodate the produce as it grows. You must tie both ends to keep bugs and slugs from crawling inside. Panty hose work well to keep pests out because bugs and slugs will not chew on the fabric. The panty hose also dry quickly after a rain and will not keep the heat in.
Believe it or not, peroxide is a gardenerís best friend! If you grow organic plants, you wonít want to use pesticides on your crop, but you can safely use peroxide. It will rid your produce and leaves of bacteria and fungi without leaving any residue. You can use straight 3% peroxide, which you buy at the drug store, to spray your plants. If you normally have a problem, start spraying your plants before the problem starts. Spray the plants once a week with peroxide and twice a week during wet weather. When spraying the plants, wet both sides of the leaves thoroughly. Donít worry about the peroxide dripping onto the soil, it wonít hurt it.
Iím always finding new environment-friendly solutions for controlling diseases and I have another. As with many home-made controllers, this one incorporates garlic which has both insecticidal and fungicidal properties. Crush and finely chop three to four cloves of garlic and mix with two teaspoons of mineral oil. Let this mixture sit for 24 hours then add a quart of water. Strain this mixture to remove the garlic chunks and store in a glass jar. When you need to spray your plants, add two tablespoons of the oil/garlic/water mixture to a quart of water. If it will not stick to the leaves of your plants, you can add a few drops of liquid detergent to the mix.
If you have trouble with birds eating the seeds from your newly planted garden, then mow your lawn first! Collect the grass clippings and scatter them over your garden after planting. The reason this keeps the birds away is that from the air the birds think even a thin layer of grass clippings is a lawn. Once the tiny plants are up, the grass clippings protect them from the beady eyes of birds.

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