Vegetable Garden Pest Management

Many gardeners, both experienced and novice, desire to limit or eliminate the use of pesticides in garden food crop production. Non-chemical pest management creates exceptional challenges. Gardeners and homeowners are increasingly alert to the need to protect pollinators and beneficial insects and are interested in enhancing habitat with landscape and garden plantings. Whitfield County Extension agents worked with three community gardens to demonstrate alternative pest management practices and pollinator habitat enhancement. Among the three community gardens, more than 10 volunteers facilitated the demonstration of solarization on a dozen community garden beds; cover crops were planted on more than 25 plots; and three new areas were developed for enhanced pollinator habitat. A “prototype” snowshoe-sized crusher/crimper, developed for use on small garden spaces, was used effectively to terminate winter cover crops at the Dalton State College Campus Garden. Interest in gardening is reflected in the participation of more than a dozen new gardeners during the 2020 growing season. More than 10 community gardeners, who have never used cover crops before, planted fall/winter cover crops. The pollinator garden plot resulted in frequent comments about the abundance of insects using the habitat and the successful duration of flower presence throughout the growing season. Four Dalton State College students participated in undergraduate research projects by collecting plant and insect data from pollinator habitat sites and completing and presenting research reports. Demonstration plots at community gardens proved to be an effective method to introduce novel or unfamiliar pest control methods to both novice and experienced gardeners.