Pest management is an important part of growing a healthy garden and plants. There are different options when it comes to pest management, including using natural methods.
The first step is keeping plants healthy, as strong healthy plants are better equipped to fight off pests and disease. To grow healthy plants, you need good soil as this is the foundation for the plants roots. The soil should be rich with nutrients, with a pH around 6.5 and well-drained. Plants should be given enough light. Most plants require a minimum of 6-8 hours of daily sunlight. There are shade loving plants that require less sunlight, so check the plants label if you are not sure. Moisture is important, especially in times of drought. When watering plants, it is better to water for longer periods of time and less often, rather than a little bit of water each day, as you want the plants roots roots to grow deep instead of shallow. Nutrition is also very important, so keep plants fertilized on a regular schedule.
Other preventive measures include:
- Floating Crop covers are a great way to prevent pests from attacking vegetables in the garden. Crop covers are a light fabric that allows sun, moisture, air, and nutrients to pass through it but prevents pests such as Carrot Rust Fly, Onion Root maggot, and Cabbage maggot from coming into contact with the plant. The crop cover is placed over the planted area as soon as the crop has been planted and remains there until the fly is no longer around (late July/early August) to lay its eggs on the soil surface. It is important to keep the fabric loosely over the plants so that the plants can grow. You also want to make sure that there are no open spaces where the fly can get in. We have been using crop covers on our garden for the past few years and it has been very successful!
- Plant collars or barriers placed around the plant can prevent cutworms.
- When you first see insects, hand pick them off the plant and kill them. You can also spray small insects such as aphids off the plant with a steady stream of water. This will need to be done every few days to keep the population down.
- To prevent worms from getting in fruit, use a product called the ‘Red Sphere Trap’. The Red Sphere Trap is a safe and preventive way to help stop worms from getting into the fruit of apples, pears, plum, cherries, blueberries, etc. The Red Sphere trap looks like an apple, and is placed in the tree in the spring when the tree is in bloom to attract, and catch the apple maggot fly before it can lay its eggs. There is a sticky coating (Tangle-Trap brush on coating) that is applied to the surface of the trap, and when the fly sits on the sticky coating it is trapped.
- The use of sticky yellow strips, are placed in greenhouses to attract pests. For the best results these strips should be placed in the greenhouse at the beginning of the season so that the pests go to the strips first. Once the pest is on the plant, it will be hard to lure them off.
- ‘Tangle Foot’ is a good product to use for wingless pests such as caterpillars. Tangle Foot is a sticky substance that is placed on a paper band which is wrapped around the trunk of the tree, preventing the caterpillar from climbing into the tree, to eat the foliage and lay its eggs.
- Keep up on the weeding to prevent hiding places for the pests. Weeds also will take important nutrients, moisture and light away from the wanted plants, resulting in unhealthy plants.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road