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29. Defense Against Bugs

The first defense against garden pests that can destroy your favorite plants and flowers is prevention. There are many options when fighting against bugs and pests, and there are many gardeners who never seem to have problems with bugs at all. Keep them healthy all year round with fertilizer, plant food, and appropriate sun and water, and you will have taken the first step in this battle.

Acting fast when pests start to invade is critical. They may be small, but gardens can be literally demolished very quickly if not stopped. If you are not careful you will not even notice the bugs until it is too late to save a particular plant. Several basic products you can keep on hand that will help you inches:

Finished compost
Bottle of insecticide soap concentrate (lasts indefinitely)
Bottle of liquid fertilizer (last two to three years)
Bottle of seaweed or kelp extract (lasts up to one year)
Bottle of sulfur fungicide that can be poured (lasts for one year)
Bottle of pyrethrum insecticide (last for three to four years)
Bottle of Bacillus Thuringiensis, liquid or powder to mix with water (lasts up to one year)
Spray bottle with minimum of one-gallon capacity
Organic mulching material
Dormant oil for roses only (lasts indefinitely)

You may need to purchase other items if the problem is intense, but any of these products will allow you to provide immediate response. Another trick of the gardening trade is to add bird feeders and birdbaths to your yard, fairly close to your garden. Birds eat insects so if they have food and water, they will also help eliminate the pests. So even if the bird food costs you a few dollars per month the response you get is worth every penny!

Summertime is the time when gardens are hit the hardest. Around July, Hostas will start affecting plants. They eat on leaves and produce a yellow hole, eventually causing the leaves to die. Treating Hostas is simple. Mix 10 parts of tap water in a bucket with one part of mild dish soap as though you were getting ready to do dishes. Literally, douse the plants with this solution. Do this once a week and before long, the pests will be gone.

If you have problems with vegetables, you can create a mixture of tobacco and water. Mix one part of tobacco with four parts of water and allow to set for a few hours. Using a sprayer, spray this mixture onto your vegetables. This works wonders and it doesnít take a lot.

Remember that many plants need certain bugs to help them bloom. For example, ants help Peonies bloom. So before you start getting rid of bugs, check on the Internet or with your local nursery to identify which bugs are good for which plants.

There are ways that you can reduce your risks. First, buy healthy plants that do not have spots or visible bugs. Second, keep your garden area clean from debris, which can be a nice breeding ground. Water your garden in the morning so the sun can dry the leaves off. Allowing water to stand late in the afternoon or evening can attract bugs.

If you choose to use chemicals on your garden, especially if itís a vegetable garden, check first with your local nursery to find out what is safe. Some chemicals can be very toxic to people as well as other wildlife such as deer, rabbits, and birds.

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