Watch for signs of problems. Check your plants every night or every other night for signs of insects or disease. The earlier you identify the problem, the easier it will be keep the rest of the crop healthy.
Choose disease and insect resistant plant varieties.
Prevention is always the best option. You can plant VFN tomatoes to prevent wilt.
Grow vegetables in full sun and well-drained soil. Plants grown in poor conditions are more likely to have disease and insect problems.
Rotate crops and companion plant to reduce disease. Companion planting means interplanting two crops, one of which helps deter pests to the other. A study done by the Iowa State University concluded that cabbage and broccoli were significantly less damaged by cabbage loupers when interplanted with marigolds, thyme or onions, and that tomatoes were subject to less insect damage when
surrounded by basil or thyme. Crop rotation also diminishes insect damage, even in a small garden. Never put in the same plants in the same location in your garden two years in a row. For information on crop rotation and how to rotate your crops, go to GrowVeg.com.
Many insects have natural predators and parasites. Encourage these beneficial insects – and pollinators – by reducing pesticide use. Lacewings, ladybugs and parasitic wasps do no harm to humans and garden crops, but they prey on spider mites, aphids and other unwanted insects. You can attract beneficial insects to your garden by planting flowers rich in nectar that bloom at different times of the growing season.
Barriers physically preclude bugs from getting to your plants. Paper collars and copper rings on the soil can keep harmful bugs out while letting your crops get the light and water they need.
Hand pick then destroy bugs, beetles and caterpillars.
Wash aphids off plants with plain water.
Look for and crush insect eggs on leaves and stems. Clip off spotted leaves. When harvesting, be careful not to injure plants or developing fruit. At the end of the growing season completely clean up the vegetable garden.
Apply floating row covers.
Spray neem oil.
is Neem Oil?
Neem oil is
derived by pressing the seed kernels of the neem tree. It is very bitter with a garlic/sulfur smell. A single seed may contain up to 50 percent oil by weight. Neem oil has insecticidal and is used to make mosquito repellants, creams and lotions. A compound found in neem oil and neem leaves extract has been proven to be safer but more effective insect repellant than DEET. Neem provides protection from not only mosquitoes, but also from biting flies, sand fleas and ticks.
Neem oil has been used for hundreds of years in controlling plant pests and diseases. It is very bitter in taste so it is very distasteful for the bugs to eat, and the bugs choose to starve themselves than eat the leaves treated with neem. Neem oil is bio-degradable and has proven to be non-toxic to mammals, birds, bees or earthworms. It is biodegradable and breaks down easily and quickly. A word of caution: neem oil spray like any other oil spray can burn leaves if sprayed in sun.
How to use Neem Oil: Mix 1 teaspoon pure neem oil in a quart of warm water and 1/4 tsp. liquid dishwashing soap non-antibacterial, mild soap e.g. ivory). Shake it well to mix