When dealing with pests, I find that usually no action is needed – except with slugs, I handpick them as soon as possible. Experience has taught me that with good planning, I can prevent many pest problems before they happen.
First, I rotate my crops annually so they’re not planted in the same spot year after year. This makes it harder for pests to find your veggies. Second, I plant plenty of annual flowers and flowering herbs in my vegetable beds. These attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, hover flies, and lacewings, which can help control pest populations. Finally, I use garden covers (insect barriers, row covers or deer netting), which help prevent pests from reaching your crops.
Of course it’s important to note that not all bugs are bad and it’s always a good idea to take a closer look before you reach for the spray bottle. According to Jessica Walliser, the award-winning author of Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden, most insects in our gardens are either beneficial or neutral. “Less than 1% of the million identified insect species on the planet are classified as known agricultural or human pests,” she says. “That means that most of the bugs you find in your garden are causing it no harm, and many are helping you control pests, pollinate flowers, and break down organic matter.”
And as anyone who gardens in deer country knows, not all pests are insects. Larger critters such as deer, rabbits and groundhogs can also destroy food and flower gardens. I see deer daily in my yard and rely on an electric fence to keep my vegetables safe.