If you’ve got a green thumb or simply like to eat fresh autumn vegetables, you probably starting to plan fall crop garden. October in Florida is perfect for planting items such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots and radishes. Planting a fall garden requires effort, diligence and forethought. It would be a shame to have your garden ruined by hungry pests.
Bugs that are attracted to fall crops
Bugs that love fall crops include aphids, all kinds of caterpillars in the larva stage, slugs, earwigs, and whiteflies. Aphids are tiny little insects with wings that eat voraciously as they grow. Caterpillars and worms will feast on the foliage and leaves of growing plants. Slugs and earwigs pretty much eat anything they can find. Whiteflies not only eat the foliage, they lay their eggs and make their home on the underside of the leaves.
Keeping the bugs at bay
With the exception of aphids, pesticides are great for keeping the bugs off of plants. Pesticide use around aphids normally only kill the predator bugs that eat aphids, which then allow the aphid population to grow.
The biggest problem with traditional pesticides is that since most of the plants are grown for human consumption, many gardeners like to limit the use of chemical pesticides. As an alternative or co-solution, spraying the plants with water or a water and soap mixture regularly will wash many of these bugs off the plants.
Other solutions to control garden pests include keeping the garden weed and clutter free. This means removing any damaged vegetables, weeds and vines. You also want to remove rocks that provide cover for bugs and any mulch, especially that which remains moist and warm.
Slugs and earwigs can be killed by setting out traps that will drown the creatures. You can make an easy trap for slugs and earwigs by first getting some type of shallow bowl. This could be an empty, clean tuna can, a cat food container or even the cut-off bottom of a plastic soda bottle. Bury the shallow bowl in the ground so that it’s easy for a slug to crawl in. Fill with a beer that has a strong yeasty smell. The slugs and earwigs are attracted by the smell and will crawl in and die.
Most gardeners will also use a technique called companion planting to help thwart bugs. There is plenty of evidence that plants such as marigolds, thyme, peppermint, and citronella keep bugs from the garden crops. Plant these around the edge of the garden or even interspersed within the crops themselves and you should see a great reduction of bugs.