If you have a vegetable garden, you surely appreciate the nutrition that comes from the garden and the good health that it promotes. Success in maintaining a healthful diet lies not only in eating healthful foods, but also in avoiding harmful chemicals that commercially grown food can sometimes contain. Using an all-natural bug spray to control pests in the vegetable garden can alleviate concerns about chemical pesticides.

Insect Pests

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Since you have a vegetable garden, you already know that your vegetables are vulnerable to insect damage. Tomatoes are damaged by the big, alien-looking tomato horn worm and potatoes by the potato cutworm. Smaller insects, such as aphids and scale do their share of damage to a wide array of vegetable plants, as well.

Pest Control

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Many insects can be controlled without spraying. Horn worms and spittle bugs can be picked and squashed by hand, while aphids can be blown off a plant with a strong spray from the garden hose. Polyester row covers can protect squash, cucumbers and strawberries, among others, from egg-laying insects and leaf eaters. Good plant culture, such as planting in sufficient sunlight and spacing plants properly can often keep the pest population at tolerable levels.

All-Natural Products

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Carbaryl — often known as Sevin — kills a wide array of insects and can be used up to the day of harvest. Bacillus thuringiensis — Bt — is a bacterium that kills many insect larvae. Horticultural oil and insecticidal soap products are often favored by organic gardeners and are avilable in ready-to-use spray forumulations. These products are harmless to humans and pets. Pyrethrin, derived from chrysanthemum plants, is a natural pesticide that quickly disappears from the plant and soil.

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You can make your own insect spray from harmless kitchen ingredients. Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing detergent with 1 cup of fresh cooking oil to make an effective, all-natural bug-killing concentrate that can be mixed as needed. A solution of 4 teaspoons of concentrate diluted with 1 pint of water in a spray bottle is effective against many soft-bodied insects, such as aphids, whiteflies and spider mites. Spray the mixture generously on the tops and bottoms of leaves, as well as the stems, for effective control.

Tips

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Even when using all-natural bug sprays, care should be given not to overuse a pesticide. Overuse can kill beneficial insects; there is no use in killing pollinating insects or insect-eating predators, such as lady bugs and praying mantis. Make sure your product is labeled for your target pest and always use according to label instructions. Spray only affected plants.

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