Sunshine, warm weather and moisture makes gardens grow, and bug populations explode! How do you save your prized plants from this insect onslaught? The conventional method is to spray first and ask questions later. But we're all more cautious and wiser about using toxic sprays. It's better to outwit your bugs.

- Build a Better Barrier. It's simple. If an insect can't reach your plant, they can't eat it. I like using floating row covers over many of my favorite vegetables. This cheese cloth-like, white material lets air, water and sunshine in, but keeps bugs out. Leafy greens, root crops and cabbage-family crops can grow to maturity under row covers. Remove the row cover once flowering starts for plants that need pollination by bees, such a cucumbers and squash.

You can simply drape the row cover over the plants or use wire hoops to create tunnels. To keep the row cover from blowing off the hoops on wooden raised beds, consider using VELCRO® Brand plant ties or fasteners. Glue or nail the fastener to the wooden raised bed and sew another on the row cover.

- Grow Carefree Plants. Be flexible with what you grow. Some flowers, such as roses, are devoured by Japanese beetles, while others, such as daylilies, aren't. With a little research you'll spend less time cursing the bugs.

- Pick Bugs. Hand pick pests, such as caterpillars and beetles, off leaves and flowers in the early morning and drop them in a pail of soapy water. It's a great kid chore!

Have any questions or gardening ideas? Email Charlie and you could see them answered in his next post!  For more information, tips and inspirations, visit