Creating Unfavorable Surroundings for Bugs (Part 2)

Gardeners can use one or many techniques if they wish to  create unfavorable surroundings for bugs.

In the previous post, Creating Unfavorable Surroundings for Bugs, part 1, I’ve covered 4 methods that can be used in order to create unfavorable surroundings for bugs.   Let’s recap — Method 1: Timing Your Plantings, Method 2: Weeding Your Garden Regularly, Method 3: Interplanting Your Crops, and Method 4: Using Companion Planting.  Let’s continue with Creating Unfavorable Surroundings for Bugs (part2), methods 5, 6, and 7.

Method 5:Create unfavorable surroundings for bugs by Rotating Your Crops

For centuries farmers have rotated their crops in order to create unfavorable surroundings for bugs. All backyard gardeners should rotate their crops from year to year. Why?

There are two reasons why rotating is good for crops. First of all different crops need different amounts of certain nutrients to remain healthy. So by rotating your crops, you give your soil a chance to replenish.

The second reason is that moving plants to different areas from year to year makes it more difficult for insects to find their favorite food. Like the game hide-and-seek, one never hides in the same place twice. Similarly, never plant the same crop in the same place two years in a row. You can create unfavorable surroundings for bugs by moving your plants to different locations from year to year.

Also, certain plants may be attacked by certain fungus. For example eggplants may be attacked by the rot fungus which survives in the soil for more than one year. Replanting eggplants in the same spot is asking for trouble, for the second crop will also be infested by this fungus.

Let me give you an example of how things work when farmers do not rotate their crops. It has become the custom for many big farmers to plant a huge crop of a certain plant year after year after year in the same field.

Day after day I have driven past huge fields which contained only cabbage.   I know from being a gardener for years that vegetables such as cabbages must find their nourishment in the soil, and if cabbages are planted in the same soil year after year, sometimes twice in one summer, there’s no way all nutrients are present for the second crop.

Not only that, but  chemical or synthetic  fertilizers do not have all the micronutrients and macronutrients needed to grow healthy and nutritious  plants: only manure or compost has all the components for keeping the soil healthy.  The cabbage becomes deficient in nutrients so is not as healthy as it should be.  As a result, cabbage becomes  more vulnerable to insect attacks.

To make matters worse, I have also witnessed these cabbages being sprayed three or four times during the growing season.

Because of the onslaught of insecticides and pesticides, the little insects needed in the soil to keep the soil healthy enough to feed the plant cannot survive.  In turn the plants get even more nutrient deficient  and are attacked by insects thus the need for spraying.  And the cycle continues.

The sad part is that we the consumers eat that food expecting it to be healthy, but it has only half the nutrients it should have.  In addition, we must deal with the residual spray.

Another example is how the big potato farmers in Prince Edward Island have lowered the health and nutritional value of the potato by planting only potatoes year after year in the same soil. Unlike the potato growers, our goal is to avoid creating the same environment which promote sickly and inferior crops. Our goal is to keep our soil and our plants healthy and strong in order to  create unfavorable surroundings for bugs.

Therefore, crop rotation should be practiced by every gardener. Read more about crop rotation at my plantsandgardeningtips.com blog.

Method 6: Rethink Spacing Between Plants

create unfavorable surroundings for bugs by planting plants closer togetherStrangely enough and contrary to popular belief, you’ll get better vegetables when you plant them closer together. Certain plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, and other members of the cabbage family seem to attract more pests when there is a lot of space between them. To create unfavorable surroundings for bugs, leave less space between the plants than what is recommended on the package. This method should reduce pest problems.

Method 7: Create Unfavorable Surroundings for bugs:  Use Row Covers (Plant Covers)

What are row covers? As an example and providing you have hula hoops around, imagine this. You have planted a 5- foot row of spinach and you know certain bugs love spinach. You cut 2 hula hoops in half so that you’ll have 4 halves of a whole circle. Use one of the halves on one end of the row another half at the other end and the remaining 2 halves evenly spaced between the end hoops.

Next, you push the two ends of one hula hoop half down into the soil so that you have one leg on one side of the row and the other leg on the other side. Once all halves have been installed in a similar manner along and at the end of the row, you have a row of 4 hula hoop halves all in a row from one end of the row to the next.

Then you take an old long window curtain made of see-through material and drape this curtain over the hoops from one end to the other and let it drape down evenly from the top of the hoops to the ground on both sides of the row and on the edges. Your next step is to weigh the ends and edges down securely with soil or boards or with special row cover staples so that nothing can creep underneath and to prevent the wind from blowing the fabric off the plants. You have now created a row cover.

Here’s an example of a row (plant) cover.

Create unfavorable surroundings for bugs with row or plant coverAlthough an old curtain would work, there are all types of horticultural fabrics available on the market. Row covers create a physical barrier between the crops and the critters, discourages bugs, bunnies, and birds and even excludes airborne weed seeds. To create unfavorable surroundings for pests, apply row covers right after planting.

Create unfavorable surrounding for bugs iHere’s another example of row covers being used to create unfavorable surroundings for bugs.  In this example we can see how white plastic covers are being used to create a barrier between insect and seedling.

Remember that insects and pests are drawn to weak and sickly plants. Having a healthy soil ( use compost, compost, compost) and growing healthy vegetables is the first step to creating an unfavorable environment for bugs; however, using one or all of these seven methods will certainly create unfavorable surroundings  for bugs and drastically reduce the bug population.

Happy gardening!

Marcie

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