Most gardeners are anxious to get out into their gardens as soon as the weather warms up and the first green sprout appears. Unfortunately, plant-eating insects are just as anxious as we are to get into the garden. They seem to think that our beautiful shrubs and tasty vegetables were planted for their benefit!

There are many fine products available in catalogs and garden centers to control insects. But for health or environmental reasons, some gardeners are hesitant to use chemicals in their garden, especially in a vegetable garden.

So what can you do to avoid sharing your beautiful flowers, shrubs and vegetables with every insect that passes through the neighborhood without using potentially harmful chemicals?

Practicing good garden housekeeping should be your first defense in the battle of gardener versus insects. In other words, keep a clean garden and don?t give the insects a place to hide and reproduce. Rake up any dead leaves from the ground and discard them, or better yet, add them to your compost. Harvest vegetables as soon as they ripen, and don?t leave over-ripe vegetables in the garden. Clear out all dead foliage from your gardens in the fall. Prune out any dead or damaged branches from your trees and shrubs, making clean cuts without ragged edges where insects can hide.

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