As gardeners we deal with all kinds of issue that can make gardening frustrating and difficult. One of those issues is pests. Pests come in many forms from thousands of kinds of insects to birds and animals. No method of pest control is 100% effective all the time so gardeners need be creative problem solvers in the garden. The best advice is to research the specific pest issue then come up with a strategy to thwart it.
If you take a little time and target the treatment with the problem you’ll be more effective and won’t have to resort to chemicals – which I feel is very important! So for today’s Friday Five we’ll bring up 5 Ways to Control Garden Pests. Like I just mentioned, these methods will not work 100% of the time for every pest but they are helpful and will make your garden more successful!
5 Ways to Control Garden Pests
- Companion Planting. Companion planting is a very fascinating strategy to prevent pests from damaging your plants. It involves planting plants that pests don’t find attractive near other plants that they do. These plants form a sort of symbiotic relationship that deters the pests from damaging the yummier, tastier garden varieties! Companion planting also includes planting varieties that are called “trap” plants. These are plants that pests are drawn to that you can easily remove or even spray with insecticidal soap so that you can cause mass casualties to the pest population! There are even plants that are magnets for pests that will decimate their numbers. Take 4 O’Clocks (Mirablis) for instance. Japanese beetles are drawn to these plants but there’s one problem for them – 4 O’Clocks are poisonous! This is an easy way to protect your roses and crape myrtles from Japanese beetle damage. One very good resource for companion planting is the book Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening (link to Amazon). It covers the subject in detail and has lot of other good garden advice.
- Row covers. Row covers are extremely effect pieces of mesh that cover sensitive plants to protect them from pests. They work great on greens that are prone to damage by cabbage loopers. The cabbage moth lays its eggs around suitable plants then the larvae munch down on whatever they can. Anything related to cabbages is an easy, and often preferred, target which will completely ruin your chances of making fresh from the garden coleslaw this summer! (I definitely love the mayonnaise kind and not the vinegar based types, how about you?) Row covers placed over the crops prevent the moths from landing and laying eggs which ultimately protects your garden.
Good fences make a good garden. If your neighbors happen to be deer, rabbits, groundhogs, or any other small garden animal that loves to nibble on your garden a fence may be a good way to go. Deer require a very tall fence since they will be happy to jump fences to get to your garden goodies. I know this for a fact. To prevent deer in my garden I made a makeshift fence from bird netting all the way around my garden. The deer don’t journey in my garden anymore but instead visit my non-deer proof plantings from other areas of the garden! ARGH! Smaller animals may try to burrow under fences so it is wise to install your fence with a portion of it under the soil.
Plant plants animals don’t like! I’m sure you’ve heard the terms “Deer Proof” or “Deer Resistant” applied to plants before. I’m not sure that there are many plants that are truly deer proof but there are those that are deer resistant. They are resistant because often they have features that deer don’t want to deal with like thorns, fragrant leaves, or are poisonous plant parts. This doesn’t help when it comes to vegetables directly but if you plant a border of deer resistant plants around your vegetable garden it may think that “this is not that garden I am looking for!”
- Smelly concoctions! Smelly concoctions fool animals into thinking that the plants these concoctions are not very tasty. Of course if you spray a mixture of rotten eggs and hot pepper sauce on your food you wouldn’t like it either! There are commercial products that do the trick but are tons of homemade recipes out there you can find that work as effective deterrents. I’ve used a mixture of hot pepper sauce, cayenne peppers, rosemary, dish soap, and any other fragrant herb around with water effectively against deer. The downside to this is that you need to reapply after a rain.
And one more! I couldn’t resist adding this easy and effective tip for preventing cut worm damage. Stick a nail, toothpick, or other stick-like object next to the base of the plants you want to protect – right up against the stem. Cut worms like to wrap themselves around the stem and nibble down around the stem. The stick prevents them from being able to completely wrap around the plant which saves your vegetable garden!