The vegetable gardener should inspect the garden vegetables to determine if there are pests. The plants should be thoroughly inspected; this includes the undersides of leaves, tops of leaves, stems and developing fruit.
Regular inspection allows the gardener to identify a problem before major damage occurs to the plants. This inspection is often referred to as scouting. Scouting is an important part of pest management in the home garden. The gardener should scout the garden on a regular basis, at least once a week or more often if time permits.
The control measures will be more effective if the problem is caught early. Once major damage occurs it may be too late to save the plants.
An important step in scouting is identification of the pest. The problem may be caused by insects, diseases or improper cultural practices. An accurate identification of the cause will help to select the best control measure. An understanding of the pest organism, its life cycle and the type of damage it causes is important in selecting a control. All control options should be considered, and select the most effective option or combinations of options.
The term integrated pest management (IPM) is used when discussing managing pest. IPM is the use of a combination of methods to manage pest in the home garden. IPM strategies include cultural, mechanical, biological and chemical management.
Integrated Pest Management in the vegetable garden involves the following examples:
Cultural practices include planting on the recommended dates, Use of resistant varieties, spacing plants properly, crop rotation, mulching, providing good soil fertility, crop sanitation and water management.
Mechanical practices involves hand removal, physical barriers and the use of traps.
Biological practices include the use of natural predators and beneficial organisms.
Chemical methods involves the use of pesticides, however this should be the last resort.