Keeping insects off your vegetables entails a combing planting and growing techniques with mechanical and natural methods to control the insects. It's best to prevent an insect infestation. However if you notice some insects in your vegetable garden, remember that insects can multiply rapidly, so it's important to check your vegetable plants regularly [source: Edelson, Simons, Hillock] and act decisively. Here are some ways to keep insects off your vegetables:
- Identify the pest and assess the type and amount of damage it may cause. Some insects are actually beneficial because they feed on other, more dangerous pests.
- Keep your vegetable plants healthy. Cultivate the soil and keep up optimal levels of water and fertilizer [source: Edelson, Simons, Hillock].
- Clean up your vegetable patch. Keep pests away by keeping weeds and organic mulches out [source: Cornell].
- Choose garden vegetables that are naturally resistant to potential pests.
- Make sure your transplants are healthy and pest-free before planting [source: Cornell].
- Cover young crops with row covers made of woven plastic. These covers let light in but keep pests out [source: Edelson, Simons, Hillock]. Remove the covers before the plants flower and before it gets too hot [source: Cornell].
- Manually remove pests, and drop them into soapy water to kill them [source: Cornell].
- Time your plantings. Early planting may prevent damage from insects, because there are not as many insects around early in the season [source: Edelson, Simons, Hillock].
- Use a biological control method by introducing beneficial pests to your garden. This way you'll manage pests by controlling them with their natural enemies [source: Cornell].
- Use insecticides and pesticides. Although these are toxic and must be used with caution, they are sometimes necessary. Some people prefer using organic insecticides, although they can also be quite toxic [source: Cornell].