Many would-be vegetable gardeners are reluctant to get started because they don’t want to deal with pests at all, or don’t want to use chemicals and don’t know of many other options. So I continue this series on organic pest control for your vegetable garden, with the eighth method: plan around the pests.
Sometimes, with some crops or in certain climates, you can avoid many pests by planting your crops so that they will mature either before or after a certain pest population peaks during the season. For example, to avoid the bean beetle you can plant varieties of beans that are early maturing. Plant corn as early as possible to avoid cornworm damage.
If your climate allows, grow most of your crops in the fall rather than spring and summer, as most of the pests have gone on their merry way by then. When you grow lettuce and brassicas at the right time of year for them – when the nightly low temperatures are between the upper twenties (Fahrenheit) and mid-forties – you won’t see any aphids, flea beetles or cabbage worms.
Just the other day, my son captured a cabbage butterfly. That’s what happens in north Texas in early March once the weather starts warming up. While we can get away with growing brassicas in the winter/early spring, they do much better in the fall when it’s about to freeze, killing off both aphids and cabbage butterflies (or at least, sending them into hibernation).
Contact your local agricultural center (extension office, in the U.S.) for tips on when to plant to avoid the most common garden pests in your area. And be sure to check out my e-book on growing vegetables, How To Grow Vegetables Without Losing Your Mind.
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