Prepare the soil for a healthy root zone (see my recipes in the previous post) and choose plants wisely – local favorites, university recommendations, and 2nd generation heirlooms. Learn to love a hula hoe, a cobrahead weeder, and a 3 prong cultivator – and learn to love a few weeds, too, so pollinators have winter flowers. Sprayers are your friends (hand misters and pump up pressure sprayers – get 2 of each, 1 for fertilizer, insecticides, and water and another for weed control mixtures (1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water, most effective on young weed sprouts on a hot, sunny day). Piercing and sucking insects include aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs. A blast of water may help get them off your plants, but 3 sprays made 8 days apart will dramatically reduce their population – use insecticidal soap, pyrethrin, or neem. Chewing insects like beetles and caterpillars have bigger mouth parts and require different controls, Bt and spinosad are most effective but spinosad is faster-acting. Spray and dust late in the day to reduce pollinator impact – deet up and go on. Try red pepper and garlic powder spray on insects and to keep cats out of beds: Mix equal quantities together, plus enough water to get through your spray nozzle or scatter the dry mix in beds. Do not use Sevin! It is overused, applied to insects it can only suffocate, and more dangerous to pollinators than most other products. Get away from glyphosate (Roundup), too. Learn to like floating row covers and cloches to exclude pests. Embrace weed barrier cloth, too. Coat traps like wax cups and paper strips with Tanglefoot sticky stuff sold in a tube to keep birds at bay. Walk the garden everyday – wear a hat, sunscreen, and insect repellant! Brands to Know: these are not the only ones but this list will get you started and give you names to ask for when you shop. Black Kow (composted cow manure), Mighty Grow (poultry by product fertilizers), Fertilome Nature Guard (product line), Bonide All Seasons Oil (and some mammal repellant products), Safer (pyrethrins and insecticidal soaps). And last but not least, the well-named Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew (spinosad). Not brand names, but names you might need: Bt (natural predator of Lepidoptera), Neem (multipurpose insect, fungus, and mite control), Diatomaceous earth (made for gardens, not swimming pools).