North Richland Hills, as well as the rest of Dallas-Fort Worth, has the perfect climate for fall gardens, especially leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and lettuce. Let’s not forget those fragrant herb gardens either. So if you are an autumn gardener, you already have those plants in the ground, watering them deeply when needed, tending them, and anticipating the wonderful harvest before that first frost hits in November. The only problem you might be having is those pesky insects. Some gardeners are claiming that this is a particularly bad year for garden pests. By late summer and early fall, the insect population is pretty large and we find them everywhere. Though established summer crops can handle the attack, young fall plants are especially susceptible to pest damage. Pressure from pests on vegetation will stay high until the first frost. The average first frost in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is November 30, so we have a while to wait. Meanwhile, there are some things that can be done to minimize the attack from insect pests and maximize your pest control efforts.
Pest Control With Physical Barriers
Some gardeners like to use a floating row cover. Usually found online, this is a lightweight polypropylene fabric that keeps pests out but allows sun and rain through the fabric. Depending on the weight purchased, it even will provide some frost protection. The drawback to this is that it may be difficult to secure. If it isn’t secured correctly, those pests can still get in. It also does nothing to help with cutworms, which live in the ground and come out at night to eat at the stems of young plants.
If your garden is small, you could consider handpicking. Handpicking is simple: examine your plants, paying attention to the delicate new growth, the base of the stem, also tops and bottoms of the leaves. If you see any pests, gently remove them from the plant and destroy them. Soft-bodied insects like caterpillars or aphids can be crushed, while hard-bodied insects like Japanese beetles can be crushed or drowned in soapy water. This method takes due diligence. It must be done every day and is time-consuming. Be sure to look out for pests like ants that may bite or sting. It takes a well trained eye for the smaller insect pests. Caterpillars are easier to find, and that is a good thing, because they can do widespread damage.
First of all, remember that insecticides can be harmful to pollinators and insect predators, like ladybugs, parasitic wasps and lacewings. Also remember that overuse of even organic or homemade insecticides can cause damage to your nutrient rich soil, so be wise with pesticides. There are basically two pest control options for this…OMRI listed pesticides. The OMRI product list is published by the Organic Material Review Institute that evaluates fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, to determine if they conform to the USDA’s organic rules and regulations. A product isn’t required to be on the IMRI list but it is helpful. It will save a gardener time researching commercial products that are listed organic but not on the list
There is also the option of homemade pesticides for pest control. There are great websites dedicated to advice and recipes for homemade options. One is Tree Hugger, which suggests an oil spray made from vegetable oil and a mild soap to treat aphids, mites, and thrips. They list a neem oil insecticide that is a hormone disrupter, alleviating insects at all stages. It is effective for mildew and other fungi on plants. Other suggestions are noted for their pungent aroma, like garlic and chili pepper. The list of homemade recipes is abundant. Know your problem then go to the web to find your solution.
Call Buzz Kill Pest Control For Garden Protection
While insect pests can be a problem to the autumn gardener, they can be managed. Know what pests you are dealing with and find the solution that best fits that pest. The web is a great source of information on pest control, or your local nursery will be happy to help as well. As always, BuzzKill Pest Control is there to handle your household and business pest control problems.