Hi I'm Tricia a California organic gardener. My first vegetable garden ever, I planted some curly spinach harvested it washed it three times made a beautiful salad we all sat down out of the bowl crawled an earwig. I was mortified and determined to get those critters early in the season from then on. These young tender starts are like delectable morsels to earwigs and slugs and other crawling insects.
So a non invasive and effective way to control these crawlies is to make periodic tours of your garden and pick off any that you might see if you have evidence that your plants are being eaten but you're not sure by what take a stroll of your garden at night and you'll find out who's doing the damage. You can also set out traps to catch sow bugs, earwigs and slugs this slug saloon attracts them with a bait that's made of malted barley, rice, yeast and sucrose harmless to humans but deadly to these creatures.
If you're problem persists you can put bait directly on the garden i like this "Sluggo Plus" because it kills earwigs slugs and a whole bunch of other types of crawling insects its made out of iron phosphate a naturally occurring soil element and spinosad which is derived from soil dwelling bacteria. Another option for destroying crawling insects is diatomaceous earth this is made from a ground-up fossilized material and it's kind of like crawling through broken glass for the insects it's not effective if it gets wet so don't use it where you have overhead sprinklers. So before Ginger moved in this was a pasture of tall grasses and I had a lot of grasshoppers eating my vegetables So I used Nolo bait which is a biological control that kills grasshoppers. Everyone knows how helpful ladybugs are in controlling pests in the garden so make sure and plant plants that attract them in fact heres one now. What I have here is a little cocoon or egg case filled with two hundred praying mantis eggs and when I was a little girl my Papa told me that it was illegal to kill praying mantis and it probably should be because this beneficial insect will eat just about any pest you have in your garden. I'm going to hang this little egg case right here on my grape vines and in a couple weeks they're going to hatch and they're going to be hungry.
If you can't wait for the beneficial insects to take care of any problems with white flies, aphids, thrips the first line of defense is just to wash the plant off with water. It might be difficult for beneficial insects to enter your greenhouse so a good alternative are these sticky traps. The yellow and blue color are attractive to different types of harmful pests. Simply hang the trap and expose the sticky side you can also attach lures to attract and trap specific types of pets like cucumber beetles.
if your plants are still getting munched there's a variety of organic sprays that you can use for persistent pests one of them is insecticidal soaps these are made from potassium fatty acids and they must be in contact in order to kill. They work best on soft bodied insects like aphids, white flies and thrips they're relatively harmless to beneficial insects like ladybug adults and bumble bees. Another category of organic sprays are oils and these smother the eggs and larva of pest insects they also will control some soft bodied insects as well as some scales and fungus. Bacillus Thuringiensis commonly known as bT is a biological control for caterpillars. We have the Safer caterpillar killer for home gardeners and the Dipel for commerical farmers. The Neem tree is in the mahogany family and its native to India, Pakistan and neighboring countries and they view it as a wonder tree because of the oil that you can extract from it. Neem oil is a broad spectrum insecticide miticide and fungicide but you should use it only as a last resort because it can kill your beneficial insects. Neem also acts as a pest repellent so it will keep bugs out of your garden and of course read the label carefully, follow directions to a T, wear your protective gear and usually spraying less is better. If your a commercial farmer make sure and check with your county Ag department before spraying any of the commercial products. So if you have any problem ID-ing what kind of pests are eating your plants just check out these pest ID cards they're great. So here is to no more bugs in your spinach salads and grow organic for life!