Nothing is more devastating than when you’re ready to start your day off on the right foot, out enjoying nature in your garden, and then you see the destruction caused by garden pests or disease.

Sure, it’s a part of gardening, but it still can take the wind out of your sails. If you really want a silver lining, the fact that bugs and wildlife want to eat your plants means you have a healthy and delicious garden.  Does that make it sting any less?

To be proactive about pests, you have to be an investigator. 

Here are a few tips for discovering and eradicating pests:

Look for holes, discoloration, or spots on your plants

Many pests blend right in, so take a close look at plant leaves. Even if you don’t see them right away, they might still be there!

A big offender is the cabbage worm, one of the most common garden pests. Those buggers blend right in and wreak havoc. If you see plant destruction but can’t find actual worms, you can spot their eggs which can look like white or yellow dots, often on the underside of plant leaves. If you see an egg cluster, remove it immediately.

My biggest struggle this year is the potato bug. While they are a pain to deal with every year, this summer they even started chewing on my eggplants! They typically go after nightshade plants, so it’s best to keep them away from potatoes and hit them with some diatomaceous earth if you do discover them.

It is imperative to immediately remove any pests you find.

Prune of damaged leaves and physically pick off any pests you can find. If you’ve got a kiddo running around that loves bugs, wrangle them in to help! 

After removing the affected plant leaves, apply an organic solution to treat them and prevent more pests. I primarily use Arber products, diatomaceous earth (especially for potato bugs), and soapy water with neem oil, all great options for organic growing.

To avoid future pests, be on the offensive. 

You can support your plants and give them the best chance of beating pests by adding a quality fertilizer, nutrient support, or organic compost around the base of the plants.

Cleaning up dead leaves with regular pruning will remove unhealthy parts of plants, leaving the healthy parts to recover and thrive. The more proactive you are the better chance you have addressing them.  

Planting a variety of plants and flowers can also help deter pests and bring in beneficial insects to combat the pesky ones.  I love nasturtium, anise, hyssop, and marigolds. Many herbs like basil, lavender, thyme, chives, and dill can also deter pests with their aromatic scents. 

Don’t be discouraged if and when you find pests. 

All is not lost! Remember, you’re choosing an organic garden because you don’t want the traditional chemicals and pesticides used to control pests all over your produce. There will always be hiccups like pests in the garden, but as long as you take a proactive approach, you are well on your way to being a successful organic gardener.

If you need additional support, book a coaching session!