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Pests are already showing in garden

I survived the frost last weekend by not planting any flowers or my tomatoes and peppers. Guess what I am doing this weekend?

Gardening is in full swing now. If you are going to be planting a vegetable garden, it’s time to plant the warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, corn, squash and more.

In the flower garden, it’s time to plant any annuals to give you that color all summer. And of course, you can plant trees, shrubs and perennials all summer long providing that you water them if it gets dry.

Pest problems are beginning to show up in the garden already, as well. The one pest that I tend to fight all season long is cabbage moths. The caterpillars of these moths completely riddle anything in the cabbage and broccoli family, especially my Brussels sprouts.

Cabbage moths are those white moths that fly around during the day laying eggs in your plants. One of the difficulties in fighting this pest is that there are three different species of cabbage moths and they each have different life cycles.

Unfortunately, the bottom line is that you will deal with one or another species all season long. Therefore, you have to be on top of this pest the entire time.

When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars are very small and are really buried down in the center of the plant. For the most part, you won’t see them. As the leaves begin to grow and enlarge, you see the damage caused by the caterpillars.

As these caterpillars feed on the foliage, they decrease the quality of the plants. In the case of Brussels sprouts, the more damage to the foliage, the lower the quality of the plants. Brussels sprouts needs the foliage in order to form the good buds or sprouts.

I have used a variety of methods to prevent this pest, and this year I am trying one more option. I am going to deploy row covers over the tops of the plants the entire season in order to prevent egg laying.

This won’t be especially easy, as I’ll have to keep adjusting the cover to the height of the plant. However, I am bound and determined to have a good crop of Brussels sprouts this year.

One of the other pests that I discovered (and really despise) this past week, thanks to the damp weather that we had the week before, was slugs.

Slugs are also tough to control, especially if you have the environment that they love — mulched beds that are nice and moist.

There are numerous options for slug control including traps (beer in a shallow pan, melon rinds upside down on the soil, damp boards that attract them) and slug control products. Of course, the ultimate option, the one I don’t employ, is handpicking and smashing.

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