How to Manage those Garden Pests
You don’t have to live in the country to be annoyed by pests in your garden.
It’s just that if you do live there, you will have many more of them with which to contend.
It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to grow flowers, shrubs, vegetables, or fruits, something in nature—insects, deer, rabbits, raccoons, and rodents—will be helping themselves to your beauty and bounty.
Even in the best-managed vegetable and flower gardens, some pests are bound to get out of control.
So, it’s important to monitor them before they become a problem. For instance, a single black bean aphid that lands on a broad bean at the start of the growing season can produce over 2,000,000 aphids by the onset of autumn.
Early control is the key to your growing success.
You Can’t Get Rid of All of Them
It isn’t realistic to believe you can keep every pest out of your garden.
After all, insects outnumber humans many millions to one, while deer and raccoons work under cover of darkness, and moles stay underground and do much of their damage without coming to the surface.
But there are ways to fight back and minimize their damage.
Let’s start with the most prolific of pests—the insects.
Insects: They’re Everywhere
Here are ten bugs that give gardeners fits.
But, as you’ll see, there are proven ways to get rid of them.
- Slugs: These slimy devils are one the most despised creatures in any garden. Handpicking, iron phosphate baits and diatomaceous earth work best at getting rid of them.
- Squash Bugs: These insects damage summer and winter squash. Most gardeners handpick them along with cleaning up infested plants at the end of the season. Spraying Neem oil on egg clusters and juvenile squash bugs also helps.
- Aphids: These tiny bugs feed on a wide variety of plants. Active interventions, including pruning off the affected plant parts and applying insecticidal soap, have been shown to be effective.
- Cabbageworms: If you spot these small white butterfliesin your garden, take action to protect your brassicas before the cabbageworm moths lay eggs. Two widely-used biological pesticides, BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) and Spinosad, have been effective.
- Japanese Beetles: These insects damage plants by skeletonizing the foliage. In other words, they eat the leaf material between the veins. Handpicking is a traditional control method. Some gardeners grow trap crops of raspberries or other fruits to keep Japanese beetles away from plants.
- Tomato Hornworms:Hornworms can ruin a tomato crop very quickly. BT and handpicking were the preferred control methods.
- Cutworms: These moth larvae live in the ground, coming out at night to feed on a plant’s stem. Using stiff collars (made from plastic drinking cups or cardboard tissue rolls) to protect young seedlings from damageseems to work well.
- Grasshoppers: These damaging insects are found in gardens, fields, on crops, and in forests in all climates. If you’re allowed to have them, chickens work best at controlling grasshoppers.
- Cucumber beetles: These beetles transmit bacterial wilt to cucumbers and melons. Neem, handpicking and good garden cleanup areuseful control
- Corn Earworms: Corn earworms are considered by some to be the most costly crop pests in North America. Some gardeners get relief by using oil cans or eyedroppers to add a few drops of canola or olive oil into the tips of ears, right when the silks start to show.
Deer are beautiful animals.
Who doesn’t like to watch them grazing in a field or meadow? But in your garden, they mean nothing but trouble. Your landscaping is like a restaurant to them, and they’ll come back often to help themselves to anything they want
The average deer eats about 5 pounds of greenery each day.
Even when they can find food in the forest, they will still seek out your sweet-tasting vegetables, hostas, and tulips. And with the decline of natural predators, their numbers have exploded, and these otherwise magnificent animals have become a menace.
Here are some recipes that might remove the “Welcome” mat from your plants:
- Mix one whole egg with a quarter cup of waterand mix well. Pour the mixture into a pump bottle and spray it on your plants. This combination will withstand light rains because the egg sticks to the leaves.
- Mix one tablespoon of liquid dish detergentwith one ounce of hot sauce in one quart of water and spray directly on plants which deer have been eating.
- For larger volume applications, mix the following ingredients:
- 1 cup milk
- Two gallons water
- Two whole eggs
- Two teaspoons cooking oil
- Two teaspoons liquid detergent
Pour the mixture into a pump bottle and spray it on your plants.
Coons are another one of those precious-looking animals with their furry bodies and innocent-looking faces.
But plant some sweet corn in your garden and anticipate those delicious ears steaming on your dinner tale. Now picture yourself walking out to your garden one morning to find that these friendly-looking creatures have broken the stalks and stripped the ears.
To avoid this disappointment, you can do a few things to keep raccoons out of your garden:
- Build a Fence: A three-foot fence won’t do it unless you use electrical wire at the top.
- Scare Tactics: Motion activated water sprayers, lights in the garden, scarecrows, and streamers sometimes work.
- Try other plants in with the corn: Pumpkins and pole beans develop foliage and vines that raccoons don’t like.
- Home Remedies: Spreading dog hair, blood meal or wood ashes around the perimeter of your garden may work. A mixture of equal amounts of chili powder and garlic might also keep them away.
Sealed compost bins are a good idea if you have rodents in your garden.
To keep them away, soak a rag in oil of peppermint and place it in areas of rodent activity. Place under an eve or under a cover that will keep the rain from diluting the peppermint. Rodents are allergic to peppermint and will avoid it.
This method is also effective at deterring rabbits.
Don’t Give Up
Try these remedies in your garden.
Also, work toward building healthy soil, welcoming beneficial insects, deciding on your pest tolerance level, and managing pests that you can’t tolerate.
Use these methods, and there’s no reason you can’t have productive and beautiful landscaping and gardens.
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