Pests in your vegetable garden?

Aphids, ants, slugs, caterpillars, grubs, and leaf miners: these are just a few of the critters you'd rather not see in your vegetable garden.

But before I tell you what you can do about them, let me first say this: 

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Garden boxes at the end of June
In a vegetable garden - and in every garden really - we include all kinds of plants that usually don't hang out together. You won't see a sunflower and beans side by side in the wild. So, in that way, what we're doing is totally unnatural.

It gives some species an advantage over others. But when they attack our plants, we get upset and strike back: Scram, you pests!

That sounds logical, but it's not. If I go on a rampage, I only win the battle, not the war. Maybe there are fewer pests for now, but it won't last. 

Fewer pests means that their natural enemies get too little food and die off. Fewer enemies means that the pests come back in full force. Or worse.

"Great, Jelle. That's not what I wanna hear."

Okay, okay, don't be so glum. You can turn your vegetable garden into a true paradise for all kinds of critters. They keep each other in perfect balance.

Kristin's the expert on this: 
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Kristin checking up on the chard
Here are Kristin's tips: 

Set up your garden as naturally as possible

In the areas around your garden boxes, make the most natural environment you can. Create corners for wild plants and bulbs, native flowering shrubs and trees, stacking stones, nesting boxes, and maybe even a small pond or bird bath. This will attract birds, hedgehogs, toads, bats, insects, and soil-dwelling creatures to your garden: the natural enemies of many pests. 
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The hedgehog: your favorite slug-eater

Ensure strong plants

Sow as little as possible indoors. Do it only when really necessary and as late as possible. If you start too early, you'll  get really puny, sensitive plants with thin large leaves. Make sure to harden off the plants before you put them outside for good.

Give your plants enough water and follow the app's advice, especially when it comes to nutrients. For most plants, the MM-Mix really is rich enough. Too many nutrients or too much fertilizer will get you fast-growing but weak plants. 

Create confusion

The Planty way of growing creates confusion for pests (not for you). 

A Planty Garden includes different kinds of plants all in one place. When you mix varieties together, pests are less likely to be interested. Sow too many of the same species tightly together, and pests will home in on them. 
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Hover flies love calendula and aphids
Marigolds and nasturtiums (Indian Cress) are included in our seed assortments for a reason: they trap aphids and attract natural enemies.

You can also plant some strong-smelling varieties among your vegetables or right next to your garden box in an MM-Mini. Ginger mint, hyssop, sage, thyme, lavender, lemon balm, barnyard wormwood, coriander, anise, onions and garlic are great options. 

Prevention is the best medicine

In early spring, use the MM-Muts - or insect netting if necessary - to cover your garden box. This will prevent flying insects from laying eggs on your plants. 
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The MM-Muts lets in light but keeps out pests
Remove pests early on so they can't spread. And remove any really infested leaves.

If you have the chance to get chickens, they're great for picking larvae and caterpillars off your plants in winter. 

Learn what is what

By no means are all bugs pests, just the opposite. Have you seen these guys around? 
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Ladybug larvae - photo by Annievvm
The ladybug larvae eat a lot of aphids. And when they grow up, they eat even more.  

Caterpillars are another thing

White Cabbage caterpillars aren't your friends. They can easily eat an entire dino kale. But this caterpillar, on the other hand, should make you jump for joy:  
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Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars - Photo: Ilse1981
These will grow into Swallowtail butterflies, a rare beauty.  

Acceptance and patience

This is the best way to deal with pests. Accept that your vegetables will have a hole in them once in a while. It doesn't matter, they still taste great. It's all just part of nature doing its thing.  
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Ants love to munch on aphids
If you apply all our tips, you'll find that nature solves most problems itself. It takes some patience but is really worth it. 

A last resort

Introducing natural enemies yourself and using - environmentally friendly - pesticides should be seen as a last resort. Most of the time, it's really not necessary in a Planty Garden.

Do you need more help? Then click here. On this page, Kristin shows what you can do to handle specific pests. From aphids to grubs. 

Good luck!

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