Pests and disease are ongoing problems for most vegetable gardeners. Although specific problems may require special solutions, there are some general principles you can follow.
Deer and rabbits. Use fences to deter rabbits. Make sure the bottom of the fence extends about 6 inches under the soil to stop rabbits from digging underneath it. The fence needs to stand at least 8 feet above the ground to prevent deer from jumping over it.
Spring insects. Row covers, which are lightweight sheets of translucent plastic, protect young crops against many common insects. Row covers are also helpful to prevent damage from light frosts.
Fungal diseases. Reduce fungal diseases by watering the soil, not the leaves of plants. If you use a sprinkler, do it early in the day so the leaves will dry by nightfall.
- If a plant falls prey to a disease, remove it promptly and throw it in the trash; don't add sick plants to your compost pile.
- Grow varieties that are listed as disease resistant. Garden catalogs and websites should tell you which varieties offer the most protection.
- Make it a habit to change the location of your plants each year. In other words, if you grew tomatoes in the northwest corner of your garden this year, put them in the northeast corner next year. This reduces the chances that pests will gain a permanent foothold in your garden.
Summer insects. Pick larger insects and caterpillars by hand. Once you get over the "yuck!" factor, this is a safe and effective way to deal with limited infestations.
Use insecticidal soap sprays to control harmful bugs. Most garden centers carry these products. Whatever pest control chemicals you use, read the label carefully and follow the directions to the letter.
How to Grow Onions and Garlic
-Onions and garlic are among the easiest garden vegetables to grow and add some of the best flavors to your kitchen. They're also some of the most rewarding because they store well. That means you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for months after harvest. Onions are cool-season vegetables and some of the first to appear in garden centers in Spring. As soon as the soil is workable, you can plant onions. Loosen the soil then plant the individual plants or sets 8 to 10 inches apart and about 2 inches deep. By early to mid-summer depending on where you live and which variety you grow, they unusually ready to harvest. You'll see the green tops start to fall over like this and this is a signal that they're ready to pull up. If the soil is loose, you can just grab the tops and pull. But a little assistance from a spading fork will make it easier. Brush up the soil, then let the onions cure for a week or two in a dry place leaving the tops on. After curing, you can cut off the tops and store the onions. Plant garlic in fall rather than spring. Wait until the cool weather laid on them so that the plants won't send up shoots before winter. Split individual cloves off the bulbs and plant them with the sharp tip pointed upward. The shoots full emergent spring and grow into early summer, if they produce flower buds, cut them off before they bloom so the plants can develop more energy to the bulbs. When the leaves start to turn brown, plants should be nearly ready to harvest. Pull up one bulb to check. If the bulb is full and firm with a slight papery skin, they're ready. You'll need a garden fork to help lift the bulbs. Like onions, you should keep the tops on while the garlic cures. After a couple of weeks of drying, cut off the sheets. The garlic is now ready to use and be sure to keep a few bulbs in reserve for planting next fall.