February 1, 2023

Natural Pest Control Tips For Your Garden

Natural Pest Control Tips for a Vegetable Garden

vegetable garden pest control
It is that time of year again; pests begin to attack all of the wonderful produce ripening in the summer vegetable garden. Unchecked, they can wreak havoc on the plants you have lovingly cared for all these months. It can be utterly disappointing to go out to harvest that tomato you knew would be ready today and find it half-eaten on the ground. Even worse is when the pests eat the whole plant. Pest control for the vegetable garden is essential if you want to reap the rewards of your hard work.

Living in a historic suburb of a Midwestern city we do not have some of the typical garden pests. There are not any deer or groundhogs to destroy our garden. There is something even worse; the fox squirrel. Those adorable, fuzzy-tailed critters that are so entertaining to watch can do more damage to a garden than any groundhog or deer. They eat anything and everything: the roots of strawberry plants, zucchini and pumpkin flowers, and fruits and vegetables just starting to ripen. Many of my pest control methods have come about from dealing with the little critters and will apply to just about any animal.

My top choice for protecting the vegetable garden from animals is deer fencing. I use it like a net over zucchini and pumpkins. I make cages with sticks to cover young seedlings and ripen veggies. It is a 7’x100′ polypropylene fence that can be cut down to whatever size you need. Bees can get through it easily for pollination, but animals (even squirrels) cannot. It is available online at places like Gardeners Supply.

Noise and movement will often be enough to startle an animal out of the garden. Wind chimes are a good choice because they will provide some noise but are usually not irritating to people. Old CDs hung around the garden will provide movement and flashes of reflected sunlight. Motion-detecting lights at night can scare away the nocturnal garden raiders.

Domestic animals can become pests when they invade your vegetable garden. For dogs, the only real option is to fence off the garden. Cats are a little trickier since they can easily climb in over a fence. They won’t eat your produce, but they can dig up plants and damage tender seedlings. Creating a spot for cats will attract them away from the garden. They really do love a shady patch of dirt and catnip. Just be sure to put it in a spot you would not mind cats being in.

Pest control is of utmost importance when you put your seedlings in the garden. My favorite method of protecting seedlings and giving them a boost is hot caps. They are simple waxed-paper domes that you put over the plants. They protect plants from most bugs and animals. As a bonus, they protect against light frost and extend your growing season. They are inexpensive and with careful treatment can be re-used.

Pepper spray is easy-to-make pest control. Grind up a hot pepper (habanera peppers are super for this) in the blender with water. You can play around with the ratio until it works for you. For some pests, it takes very little, but others seem to ignore it unless it is fairly strong. Spray it regularly on ripening vegetables and fruit to deter pests from eating them. It will have to be reapplied after rain.

Along the same lines as pepper spray is making a spray with peppermint oil. The strong smell of peppermint oil deters rodents. Like pepper spray, it does need to reapply rather frequently, especially after it rains. You will also have to tweak it to fit your needs. Mice seem repelled by very little, but squirrels require a stronger dose.

Attracting birds to the garden is great natural bug control. Putting up a source of clean water and food for birds will attract them to your yard. This is a great solution if you have Japanese Beetles. They can do a lot of damage, but birds love to eat them. We have very few Japanese Beetles show up in our yard due to an abundance of sparrows and our small flock of ducks and chickens. When we do happen to see one, it is caught and fed to the birds.

attract bird to your garden
Praying mantis, Lacewings, and Ladybugs are beneficial insects. They hunt and eat bugs that would damage your vegetable garden. They can be purchased through garden supply stores. If you have kids, hatching the Mantis egg case is a fun science project. Just be sure to release them quickly so they can get to work in the garden and not cannibalize each other.

A method that is popular for pest control is companion planting. Many people have had positive results planting specific herbs or flowers near vegetables to deter pests. Details on companion planting can be found in the book Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte or on various gardening websites.

Maintaining your garden can be helpful in preventing pests. Weeding and mulching make it harder for pests to hide and it makes plants healthier so they can survive a mild attack. Be sure there is not any trash left around that could attract animals and insects. Watering should be done in the morning to prevent mold and fungus that would weaken your plants. If you have a compost bin, it is best to use one that is enclosed so that unwanted pests are not attracted to your yard.

Natural Pest Control Tips for Flowers

flower garden pest control
Natural pest control for your flowers is a safe, and cheaper alternative to harsh chemical insecticides. Most of the natural pest control tips for flowers that I am going to share require little to no money, but they do require time and diligence. It is also important that you continue to use each method regularly through the growing season in order for any of them to work.

Here are ten natural pest control tips for flowers that I use in my own garden to keep my flowers blooming and my garden healthy.

Watch For Signs
The biggest line of defense against pests is you. It is important that you watch closely for signs of pests in your flowerbeds and on your flowers because it is easier to identify what type of pest you have when you actually see it. Being able to identify your specific pest reduces the amount of time it takes to identify and determine the safest and most natural way to rid your flowers of their pest.

Mulch to Reduce Pests
Most pests are soft-bodied so the best pest control tip for flowers is to add mulch to your garden beds, and around your flower plants. Hosta plants are very susceptible to slugs, which love eating the leaves and can strip your entire plant of its foliage. Slugs are entirely soft-bodied though, and when you apply mulch it is nearly impossible for slugs to reach your plants.

Use Healthy Soil
Healthy soil produces healthy plants, and healthy plants are able to deter and survive pest damage. I always use organic soil in my flower beds and not just in my vegetable garden, and you can definitely see a difference. When you are using soil from other gardens or purchasing your soil, make sure you look over everything to ensure that there are no insects or pest problems that you will be adding to your garden.

Weed Regularly
By weeding and keeping your garden free of garden debris, you are lowering the chance that you will have an infestation of pests and insects because you reduce the places where they can breed and feed. Keep a semi-manicured garden at all times, which is one of the best pest controls for flowers.

flower garden weed removal
Attract Good Insects
One of the most natural ways to control pests on your flowers is to attract bugs that are good for your flowers, and that love the pests preying on them. There is always something bigger out there that will eat whatever you are having a problem with. So, when planting your garden, be sure to learn about the different types of pests your garden can attract and what they do not like in terms of other plants and insects. Co-planting to attract healthy bugs and deter pests altogether is your best line of defense.

Use Insecticidal Soap
Another reason to watch for signs of pests is that most natural insecticides require that you only spray them and spray them fast. Insecticidal soap is great pest control for flowers product, but it has its limitations and most of them rely on you and your ability to identify pests on your flowers. These soaps can kill the good insects that we talked about earlier, so you do not want to use them universally, over your entire flower bed. Instead, locate the pests that are eating your flowers and spray them directly. This is also important because the soaps are only effective when you spray them and not when they are left on foliage or any other part of the plant.

Remove Pests Manually
It might not be the best garden chore out there, but getting down and dirty is often the quickest way to get pests off your plants. Even though I hate it I have been known to chase down slugs, beetles, and a variety of other pests that are eating my plants now and need to be removed as soon as possible. Make sure you research exactly what type of pest you are dealing with so that you can determine the best way to capture and kill them.

Trap Pests Naturally
There are a lot of things that pests are naturally attracted to, you just need to figure out what they are. When slugs attack my garden I am quick to add beer traps for them to take care of themselves. Just make sure that you are not harming the beneficial insects that find their way to your garden or that the traps you use are harmful to the soil or small children and pets.

Make A Natural Insecticide Spray
There are several easy-to-make and natural insecticide sprays that you can make. Most of them include vinegar, alcohol, and/or hot pepper sauce. I have made up several batches, in different varieties and find that it reduces the problem considerably, but I need to use the spray along with most of the other pest control tips that I have mentioned in order to get the best results.

Create a Barrier
For larger, non-insect pests, an actual barrier is sometimes the only way to keep pests away from your flowers. With deer, there are several plants and planting techniques that you can use to repel them from eating your flowers. Netting and staking flowers up so that they are not near the ground can deter smaller rodents and animals.

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