I squished some stunningly beautiful, yet voracious, cabbage caterpillars today. Nothing brings out the homicidal tendencies of a normally mild mannered gardener than seeing one of your beloved crops under siege. Now that potato beetles, grubs, and cut worms are laying waste to some veggies, gardeners have been asking me what they can use to smite these creatures of carnage. Below is an exerpt from our recently updated gardening guidelines on accepted sustainable pest and pestilence control. As we are in an intimate garden community, a person’s gardening practices will directly influence the health of their neighbor’s garden. For this reason, these guidelines must be followed. So there will be a lot of weeding to prevent disease and pests and a lot squishing going around until we have established a good habitat for beneficial insects and birds. Insecticides and Fungicides:
We are an organic garden and want to stress that PREVENTION and VIGILANCE are the keys to keeping harmful insects/diseases from destroying crops.
Proper spacing of plants: While we all hate to thin our healthy little seedlings, crowded plants encourage insects, bacterial, viral and fungal infections. If disease appears, we must remove diseased leaves, stems or whole plant if necessary to prevent spread. DO NOT PUT THEESE DISEASED PLANTS ON THE COMPOST PILE. They have potential to infect the compost and spread the disease. Take them out of the garden and dispose of them by bagging them up as trash.
Frequent (preferably daily) inspection of plants for insects and their eggs:
Don’t forget the underside of the leaves where many lurk!—is the best way to keep it under control. Hand picking in a small garden is not too onerous.
Careful Watering: It is preferable to water as early as possible so leaves don’t stay wet overnight, encouraging the fungal diseases so prevalent in this climate.
Row Covers are an excellent option for protecting vulnerable plants until the flowering stage and also protects from mild frost.
WEED, WEED, WEED: To minimize disease and pests it is essential to keep weeds under control in your garden and the garden paths. Please keep your plot clean and free of debris.
If, in spite of your best efforts you have an infestation you may use:
Insecticidal soap, including diluted dish detergent and “Natural” controls such as garlic spray or baking soda are acceptable and safe.
NEEM although considered organic is prohibited in the garden due to its potential harm to bees and other beneficial insects.
Bacillus Thurengensis may be used for squash borer or cabbage worm if necessary.
Copper Sulfate or “Bordeaux mixture” may be used for fungal disease which we are likely to get on our tomatoes. It is best to catch it early as it spreads and will do much damage, seriously decreasing our yields.
No other substances are to be used in the garden. Well-tended, healthy plants are more resistant to disease so again, a little TLC is the best medicine.