Growing your own food can pay a wealth of dividends from cost-savings to a healthier lifestyle. Don’t let your time and money go to waste due to things that can damage or destroy your vegetables.
Tip 1 Frost Danger
Over the past decade, the weather patterns have oftentimes been very unpredictable. It’s difficult to know when the last frost will hit your area. You might have hardened off your vegetable plants and just planted them when an unexpected frost hit and wiped out months of nurturing seedlings to planting size.
Repurpose Milk Jugs
There is a simple way you can go ahead and put those plants into the ground with fearing frost – milk jugs. One of the cheapest ways to protect vulnerable plants is to repurpose old milk or water jugs. Simply cut the bottom off the jug about a couple of inches from the bottom and you have a cover.
Word of Caution
You can leave the cap on or remove it. If you choose to leave the cap on the jug, be aware this prevents air circulation, so promptly remove the lid the next morning. You might decide to leave the plant covered to protect it from pests. If so, simply remove the cap/lid. If your garden has intense heat, you’ll want to carefully monitor so the jug doesn’t capture too much heat and cause the plants to wilt and die from heat exhaustion.
Tip 2 Pest Control
Another danger to gardens is pests. While having a healthy crop is a great preventative measure to thwarting most pests, you still need to contend with pests.
Slugs may move slow, but they munch plants very quickly. There are several ways you can stop them from destroying your crop and still grow organic vegetables.
This is nothing more than ground seashells. The tiny shards cut up the slug bodies and they die. The danger is that helpful insects may also be inadvertently killed. Be sure to wear a mask since these tiny particles can get into your lungs.
This is a bait trap for slugs. Use a shallow pan or lid and fill with beer. Place next to the plants. The slugs will crawl into the beer, attracted by the yeast, and drown.
This method kills slugs because it dehydrates them. The problem with using table salt is that it can burn and harm your plants. You can use the beneficial Epsom salt (great for side-dressing tomatoes), but the salt factor won’t dehydrate the slugs. However, the broken sharp edges will do damage just like diatomaceous earth.
Tip 3 Protection for Parsley
Parsley is a great herb and has amazing health benefits, such as vitamin K, A and C, antioxidants and is a natural diuretic. It is a magnet to caterpillars. While you don’t want to kill caterpillars that will cocoon into beautiful beneficial butterflies you can prevent them from getting to the parsley by placing a wire with a wire mesh cloche.
The hornworm is the dreaded pest of tomato growers. You can quickly find the damage by following the path of chewed leaves and poop. This is the best way to find this cleverly camouflaged moth caterpillar. This green destructor blends perfectly in with the tomato stalk and foliage. The hornworm is easy to miss when picking tomatoes or working with the plants and this can end with brushing against its horn that protrudes from the rear end.
This horn is a singer and inflicts a very painful sting. This is just one reason to wear gloves when working in a garden. The best way to control this pest is to hand-pick it from the plant. Keep a pair of scissors handy so you can snip the growth where the worm is attached and dispose. Unchecked, the hornworm can strip a tomato plant in very short time.
Its enemy is one of three wasp species that are unable to sting. These beneficial wasps, such as ichneumon. braconid and chalcid wasps lay pupae that appear like pieces of white rice fanning out from the worm. These parasitic cocoons feed on the hornworm and eventually kill it, but by the time this happens, your tomatoes will be defoliated.
Keeping Garden Vegetables Safe
There are many ways to keep your garden plants safe from unwanted weather and insect attacks. The beneficial critters, such as ladybugs that eat aphids and lizards that eat many garden pests are just a few of nature’s garden helpers you can attract into your garden.