Gardening with Laurie: Stay on top of pest problem naturally

By Laurie Garretson
May 15, 2014 at 12:15 a.m.

Last week, I offered beginning gardeners some suggestions on how to prevent some of the common gardening frustrations that often occur. This week, I'll give some suggestions about natural ways to help with pest problems.

First of all, keep a close watch over all your crops, preferably on a daily basis. Always read the directions on all types of pesticides, even the natural products.

Just because a product is all natural doesn't mean it can't kill honeybees and beneficial insects. Bees are needed to pollinate your eggplants, tomatoes and peppers, and beneficial insects can help eliminate all kinds of bad insects.

Be very selective when looking for a product to rid your garden of a certain pests. Having a good insect book can certainly help identify garden enemies. "The Texas Bug Book," by M. Beck and H. Garrett, is one I'd highly recommend. You can get used copies at for about $16.

The odds are real good that having a vegetable garden will bring in different types of moths. The only purpose these moths have is to lay their eggs in your garden so your plants can provide food for their young when they hatch into hungry worms. So again, I mention how important it is to be a observant gardener. Paying close attention to your crops on a daily basis is very important for better success and less frustrations.

There are hundreds of organic pesticide products available to home gardeners. Knowing which product to use for which pest is sometimes very confusing to new gardeners. I suggest having some diatomaceous earth, Neem Oil, BT Worm Killer, Sluggo Plus for snail and slugs and an all-purpose insecticide spray or powder. Every seasoned organic gardener probably has one or more of these products on hand.

Using beneficial insects as a preventative to help with pest insect problems is a very good thing. Pests not only eat our crops but can also carry different types of diseases. Putting out beneficial nematodes once or twice a year (October and January) will help kill off many pests while they are in the soil. Releasing silver lacewings and ladybugs a few times a year can help with many varieties of garden pests. Trichogramma wasps, put out at the right time, can get rid of moth eggs that would hatch into troublesome worms.

Organic gardeners realize the importance of working with nature. We realize there is a healthy balance of good to bad when it comes to garden pests. Think about it: How could you have all the beneficial insects if there where no pests for them to eat? It's when the balance gets out of order when problems arise.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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