|To stay ahead of insects eating and reproducing in my vegetable garden, how do I determine best time to set out my transplants?|
|The timing of insect emergence is very closely tied to weather--specifically temperature. Commercial orchardists, for example, carefully count the "degree days" in the spring, and by doing so are able to predict quite accurately when insect pestswill hatch or emerge from their overwintering sites.
If you are really interested, you could do some research on the temperature requirments for the emergence of particular pests--then create your own weather monitoring set-up.
In general:For shorter season (or fast-maturing) crops, you can try setting them out either a little earlier or a little later than usual. For example, if you set your broccoli out a week or two earlier than usual, you might get them to harvestable size before the cabbage loopers begin laying eggs (and their caterpillars start munching). Or, you could wait until mid-summer to set the plants out (perhaps under a row cover for the first month or so). Then, the plants will be maturing after the caterpillars are through.
It's a little harder with long-season crops like tomatoes, eggplant, or peppers.
The best advise I can offer is to experiment, keep your plants in optimum health, try to reduce the stress on plants with careful watering, fertilization, etc. And try to grow crops within their optimum temperature range. (That is, don't try to grow those broccoli plants in the heat of mid-summer.)
You can also try contacting your cooperative extension office (ph# 203-789-7865); they may havesome information about pest emergence in your area.