Anyone who has ever tended a vegetable or flower garden knows how rewarding the process can be as well the aggravation that goes long as with it as you encounter various insect pests, diseases and the numerous weeds that are ever present. Managing these garden pests and diseases doesn’t begin after you have planted your crop but it is an ongoing, yearlong process. Beginning to prepare for battle with these garden pests even in the Fall and Winter months will give you a huge advantage to help you defeat them when they arrive in the Spring and Summer Months. Here are some tips to help you.
After the growing season is completed, be sure to clean out of your garden and the other locations you plan to plant in the next season all garden plant and garden weed material. Disposing of this plant debris can be done so by having it hauled away in the trash, carried to a location far from your garden or simply burned, which is a very effective way of destroying it. You want to destroy this plant material because many types of insect pests will stay in and over winter in this debris and re-emerge next season. Harmful bacteria and disease pathogens can also remain in this debris and re-infect garden plants next year. It’s important to remove weed plant debris along with garden plant debris because the same insect pests and diseases can also infect weeds growing amongst the garden crop.
Loosening or plowing the top 3 to 4 inches of soil in your garden and the locations you plan to plant in next year at the end of this growing season just before a frost is an effective way to directly expose insect pests and their larvae in the soil to freezing temperatures which will kill them.
Just after the growing season is finished and all crop debris has been removed, try baking your soil. On warm days in the Fall and early Spring just before you plant, place large plastic sheets directly on the soil over the locations of your garden for the upcoming season. On warm, sunny days these plastic sheets will trap heat from the sun and greatly elevate the temperature of the soil. This heating of the soil will kill over wintering insects and larvae (that may have managed to survive up to this point) as well as several types of disease pathogens. When you bake the soil in this way, any remaining weed and other unwanted plant seeds present will also be destroyed as the temperature of the soil goes above 100° Fahrenheit.
These are just a few simple techniques you can use to help you fight insect pests, diseases and weeds in your vegetable or flower garden before the season begins.