Foil Cutworms with Collars
When setting out seedlings, put collars around the stems to protect them from cutworm damage. These fat, gray caterpillars (you may find them curled up in the soil in the day) come out at night and chomp through stems right at the soil level. I make my collars out of layered strips of newspaper wrapped around the stem before I set transplants in the ground, placing them so that they extend a little way into the soil, but you can make collars out of plastic or other materials as well.
Keep Weeds Down around the Vegetable Garden
Weeds can serve as reservoirs for some pests, like the European corn borer in pigweed and smartweed. So keep areas adjacent to the vegetable patch mowed to reduce problems.
Don't Dig Too Soon
We have had a wet spring in New England this year, so be sure your soil has dried up sufficiently before you begin to dig in it. Working the soil when it is too wet can destroy its structure, leaving it a compacted mess. Grab a handful of soil and squeeze it into a ball. If it crumbles readily when given a gentle poke, it's dry enough. If it sticks together, wait a little longer.
Sow seeds of annual herbs such as dill, cilantro, and chervil directly in the garden where they are to grow. These hardy herbs can be seeded as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Make repeat sowings every few weeks for a steady supply of tender leaves throughout the season.
Don't Set Out Tender Plants Too Soon
A few warm days at this time of the year can get us itching to set plants outside. But for many parts of our region, the last frost date is still in the future. If you can't resist setting out some frost-tender plants early, be prepared to cover them or move them to a protected spot if frost threatens. And wait until things have really warmed up before setting out real heat lovers like peppers and eggplants.