The first step to controlling a pesky pest situation is to identify the culprits and what is attracting them. For example, raccoons are strongly attracted to accessible compost piles, skunks love to eat the grubs that can be prevalent in lawns, squirrels can help themselves but come looking for loose birdseed. If these pests are being attracted by something that can be removed or controlled in your garden spaces, then simply eliminating the attraction could be a good first step to removing the problem completely.
There are several different approaches to eradication of these garden pests. You can purchase poison pellets and granules, but these can pose a danger to people and pets. Traps can be set, but must be monitored and reset. Here are some natural, homemade solution to your garden pest problem that I have found useful.
• Build healthy, organic soil. Natural composting methods, mulching and top-dressing your soil with compost or natural fertilizer is the best way to develop strong, vigorous plants.
• Seaweed mulch or spray.Seaweed contains trace elements such as iron, zinc, barium, calcium, sulfur and magnesium, which promote healthy development in plants. Seaweed fertilizer in mulch or spray form will enhance growth and give plants the strength to withstand disease. Seaweed mulch also repels slugs.
• Minimize insect habitat. Clear garden area of debris and weeds which are breeding places for insects. Use clean mulch.
• Interplant and rotate crops. Insect pests are often plant specific. When plantings are mixed, pests are less likely to spread throughout a crop. Rotating crops each year is a common method to avoid re-infestation of pests which have over-wintered in the bed.
• Keep foliage dry. Water early so foliage will be dry for most of the day. Wet foliage encourages insect and fungal damage to your plants.
• Disinfect. If you’ve been working with infested plants, clean your tools before moving on to other garden areas. This will reduce the speed of invading insects.
Beneficial insects are insects which you can attract to your garden, or buy from catalogues, which prey on harmful insects or their larvae.
Brachonids,Chalcids and Ichneumon Wasps
These small beneficial insects destroy leaf-eating caterpillars. You can attract them to your garden by planting carrots, celery, parsley, caraway and Queen Anne’s lace, all members of the Umbelliferae family. These plants are easy to grow, and some should be left to flower. It’s the flower that attracts the insects.
These common insects consume aphids, mites, whiteflies and scale. They can be attracted to your garden by planting members of the daisy family (Compositae), tansy or yarrow. Ladybugs are also available from catalogues online.
Lacewings are avid consumers of aphids, and their larva eat aphids and other varieties of other insect pests. They are attracted to “composite” flowers, such as yarrow, goldenrod, black-eyed susan’s and asters. Lacewings can also be purchased online at the sources listed below, and released directly into your garden.
Hover-flies are avid consumers of aphids, and the larva of hover-flies eat aphids and other insect pests. Like the Lacewings, they are attracted to “composite” flowers, such as yarrow, goldenrod, black-eyed susan’s and asters. Seeds for these flowers are available online, or at most garden centers.
These large insects have an appetite for most garden pests. Praying mantis eggs are set out in the garden where they hatch and quickly grow. The eggs are available through mail-order and online catalogues.
Effective against cutworms, a common pest which destroys sprouts before they can grow into seedlings. Nematodes are also effective against beetles and root weevil larvae.
Nematode eggs are microscopic and come in a small sponge a million at a time. These are mixed with water and applied to the soil, where they hatch and go to work. If they get on foliage, wash them off to the ground.
Nematodes are harmless to humans and pets.
Garden ‘Mini – Insectary’
You can also set aside a small garden plot of flowering plants designed to attract and harbor beneficial insects. These ‘good’ insects prey on many common garden insect pests, and offer the gardener a safer, natural alternative to pesticides.
|Non-toxic and Homemade Remedies|
|Homemade remedies are inexpensive and, best of all, you know what is going into your garden. Many homemade sprays have been used with good results to control harmful insects. They usually involve noxious (but non-toxic) ingredients such as garlic, cayenne, stinging nettles or horsetail which are diluted in water and blended to be sprayed on the plants. Here are a few simple formulas:|
Caution: Sprays which kill harmful insects will also kill beneficial insects. Use these homemade remedies selectively, only spraying the infected plants. Apply them early in the morning or just before dark. Re-apply after a rain. Wear protective clothing when spraying insecticides.
|Traps and Barriers|
|Yellow Flypaper: Old-fashioned fly-paper is very effective in the garden for aphids and whiteflies. In fact, any board or heavy paper painted yellow and coated with a sticky substance such as tanglefoot (available at garden centers) will do the job.
Apple Maggot Traps: The apple maggot is the most destructive pest of apples grown in home orchards. This insect is a type of fly which pierces the skin of ripening fruit and lays eggs. In 5 – 10 days, the eggs hatch a maggot which burrows through the fruit. These pests can be managed by using sticky red sphere traps. Hang one trap for every 100 apples in a tree. Click for more information, or to buy apple maggot traps.
Floating Row Covers: Floating row covers consist of lightweight opaque material which is draped over the garden bed. Sunlight and water go through, but insects and birds are kept out. The material is so light that the growing plants simply push it up as they grow – like Jiffy Pop popcorn. The edges of the row cover need to be anchored with rocks or boards or the wind will lift it. The material is “spun” which resists tearing, but usually begins to break down after a few years. Row cover material comes in rolls so you can make a continuous cover no matter how long the garden bed.
Row covers are great for protecting seedlings. They are even more useful throughout the growing season when placed over vegetables such as carrots, beets, broccoli, swiss chard and spinach because it makes an effective barrier against flying insects looking for these plants to lay their eggs on.
Cloche: The cloche is like a miniature greenhouse for your seedbeds and young plants, and acts as a barrier against pests. Unlike the floating row cover, however, the cloche has to be opened on hot days and for watering, and this presents an opportunity for pests to find the plants. But because the cloche helps seedlings and young plants get well established, the enhanced natural resistance of stronger healthy plants is the best defence against pests and disease. Click here for more info or for plans to build your own portable garden cloche.
|Barrier Paper: Scraps of waxed cardboard from milk cartons, or a scrap of roofing felt are a simple yet effective defence against cabbage moths. Cabbage moth larva kill young sprouts of the Brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale or cauliflower).
Cut into 2″ squares and slit one side into the center; make another small slit crossways. Open the slit and slide the square so the seedling stem is in the center. This prevents the cabbage moth from laying eggs at the base of the sprouts. Leave in place – as the plant grows it will simply push the slit open wider. Be sure to apply as soon as the sprout appears, or the moth will beat you to it!
|The average deer eats about 5 pounds of greenery each day. Creatures of habit, they revisit the same forage areas often. The following non-toxic recipes will deter the deer, but may need to be re-applied after a heavy rain.|
|~ Mix one whole egg with a quarter cup of water and mix well. Pour the mixture into a pump bottle and spray it on your plants. This deterrent will withstand light rains because the egg sticks to the leaves.
~ Mix one tablespoon of liquid dish detergent with one ounce of hot sauce in one litre of water and spray directly on plants which deer have been nibbling.
~ For larger volume applications, mix the following ingredients:
~ Nontoxic natural deer repellents are commercially available, using variations of the above formulas. Click to learn more or to purchase nontoxic deer repellent.
Eventually, even the most persistent deer will become discouraged and look elsewhere for forage. Once they’re in the habit of feeding elsewhere, you may be able to let up on the spraying regimen.
Site visitors offer these suggestions for nontoxic deer control:
“Hang a bar of fragrant soap from a middle branch of a bush to keep deer from eating the leaves. They don’t like the smell. The rain and humidity keeps the soap fragrant.” Wendy ”
Human hair stuffed into a small cheescloth sack and hung in trees will repel deer. This is useful in a small orchard.” Anthony
First, secure any open food sources, especially the compost bin. Sealed compost bins, such as compost tumblers, are recommended if you have rodents in your garden. As a deterrent, soak a rag or cotton balls in oil of peppermint (found at most health food stores), and place 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.
Organic mole repellent is now commercially available for area-specific mole controL.