|What can I use to protect my lettuce, tomatoes, from the bugs eating them? What are the natural remedies and safest chemicals?|
| In most gardens there's a balance of beneficial insects and destructive insects. Once a population of bad guys gets established, a crew of good guys usually shows up. Since you're growing organically, you'll probably want the insects to battle it out, with the good guys gaining control. You can encourage beneficials by having something in bloom at all times, and by avoiding the use of pesticides (which will kill good guys as well as bad guys). Even organic (botanically derived) pesticides can harm beneficial insects and should be used only as a last resort. Most pesticides are pest specific, so it's important to positively identify the destructive insects and use a product that targets them and them alone. At this point I'd try to identify the damaging insects.
Permethrin is the oldest, and most common, of the pyrethroid insecticides. It is widely available and is sold under a large number of different brand names (Martin?s Vegetables Plus, Bonide Eight Vegetable, Fruit & Flower, and Hi-Yield Garden, Pet & Livestock Insect Control are three examples). Permethrin is labeled for use on many different vegetable crops and is effective against many beetle, bug, and caterpillar pests. Because it controls so many different insect pests and is labeled for use on most vegetables, this is probably one of the most useful insecticides for home vegetable gardeners to keep on hand. Good luck with your garden!