With the summertime growing season in full swing, consider the best tools for fighting organically those unwanted garden visitors that can damage your beautiful veggie plants. Armed with a spray bottle capable of delivering a good strong spray of water (more precise and less damaging to tender foliage than a shot from a hose), a container of insecticidal soap (follow label instructions for use) and your own fingers, you have the means of controlling many of the most common insect pests that might arrive. A sharp spray of water or a thorough wetting (tops and undersides of leaves, all sides of stems) with insecticidal soap will dispatch such invaders as aphids, spider mites and whiteflies. Mexican bean beetles and their eggs and larva can easily be removed by hand and squashed. Diatomaceous earth (DE) will discourage snails or slugs, although the dust must be reapplied after getting wet. For caterpillars on foliage, use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). If you see tomato hornworm on your tomatoes, look closely. If the caterpillar has small white sacks bristling from its body, leave it alone. It’s already been dispatched by predator wasps – your allies in your garden. Other predator insects are good garden helpers and will help control unwanted visitors, as well, so use control measures only when you see the pest insects or their damage.
– Carol Hassell