Do you have trouble keeping unwanted visitors out of your vegetable garden? It’s a fairly common problem with people who grow their own food, and there are many ways to approach the issue. Some people like to use various kinds of pesticide to keep pests away, and some people have their own home remedies. It’s a highly debated topic among amateur gardeners, and professional farmers alike, and everyone seems to have their own answer to the problem.
One of the first things that will determine what solutions are possible for you, is determining the type of garden you are trying to run. If you’re not concerned about using pesticides, for instance, that makes for an easier solution than if you want your garden to be completely organic and pesticide free. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to matters like this, and you’ll need to figure out where you stand on that before trying to figure out how to solve your growing pest problem.
In addition to determining what kind of solution you are comfortable using in your garden, it’s important to accurately diagnose what kind of pest problem you have. Are your problems coming from bugs, mildew, disease, small mammals, or large mammals? There are a whole host of critters out there that could be getting into your crops, and chances are you might even have a variety of pests to deal with. Figuring out exactly what you’re trying to combat should be one of your very first steps though. Without knowing what the problem is, how can you expect to solve it?
Dealing with Insects:
One of the most common pests that you’ll find while gardening are bugs. This is probably already obvious to you if you’ve ever grown any sort of plant in your life. There are a plethora of ways to deal with bugs, and if this is your only pest, you’ll probably be able to find a solution fairly quickly.
The most common way to deal with garden insects, is to get an all-purpose insecticide like Sevin dust. Many farms use Sevin to control their bug populations. However, Sevin is a toxic chemical, and should be used with caution. Obviously, you should wash all food from your garden before eating it, but when using Sevin dust (or any other consumer pesticide), you’ll want to double check that everything has been washed thoroughly.
If you’re trying to keep your garden organic and pesticide free, there are a handful of natural ways to create your own pest repellent. Here are some common natural insect repellents:
- Garlic Oil Spray for aphids and beetles
- Hot Pepper Spray for mites and whiteflies
- Tomato Leaf Spray for most insects
- Beer or Citrus Rind Traps for slugs
- Neem Oil Spray
- Diatomaceous Earth
- Chili Pepper Spray
When using homemade pesticides or repellents, make sure to keep a close eye on your plants after applying to make sure that your repellent is actually working. If you’re not seeing the results you’re hoping for, then you might want to make alterations to your solution. There are many gardening resources out there dedicated to all-natural pest repellents.
Dealing with Rodents:
Rats, mice, and voles are regularly responsible for a fair amount of crop damage each year. They like to eat berries, vegetable seeds, and stored food in particular. This can make it difficult to even get your garden started properly if you’ve got issues with mice eating your seeds before they can sprout.
There are many products for sale that can help you deal with rodent populations, though you should exercise caution with any sort of poison that is designed to kill mammals, even small ones. In many cases, your garden will not be plentiful enough to sustain a full-size population of mice, rats, or voles, so you may not have to take drastic measures with poison to try to kill all of them.
It might be better to try deterring rodents rather than putting potentially dangerous poisons around food you’re planning to eat. The first step for deterring rodents is removing their home or blocking access. Try to seal up any small cracks or openings in storage spaces to remove access to food. Keep your garden neat, and remove any piles of pulled weeds, or other places that rodents might like to hide. Cover compost heaps or other sources of food, and make sure bird feeders are well out of reach.
In addition to making it difficult for them to hang around, you can set up ultrasonic emitters pointed at your garden that will emit a frequency above the range of human hearing that will scare off any mice or rats looking to make off with a quick meal.
Dealing with Larger Mammals:
Larger mammals can pose a significantly larger problem for the amateur gardener. Deer and other large herbivores can trample and eat crops, making it very difficult for you to get any produce from your garden. Before you go reaching for the shotgun, let’s look at some alternative measures for dealing with larger mammals.
Predator urine is a common repellent for mammals such as deer, woodchucks, and badgers. You can spray a perimeter around your garden that will keep all but the most desperate mammals out of your garden.
If you don’t have a fence around your backyard, or if your garden is large enough to warrant its own fence, it could be a good idea to reach out to a local fence contractor, like Fencing Unlimited Inc. here in Richmond, to erect a fence around your backyard or garden. Fences are a great humane way to keep larger mammals out.
You can also use ultrasound emitters, faux predators, and noise traps that will scare away larger mammals before they can get into your crops. Most larger mammals, even bears, are fairly skittish when startled and will usually run off at the first hint of danger or surprise.
These steps should help you deal with a variety of pests that could be plaguing your home garden. There are many sites out there that can help you with more detailed pest control, and if you’ve identified the specific pests that you are dealing with, you can create a personalized pest control plan specifically for your garden. Hopefully this post will help you reclaim your garden from any pests who seem to believe it’s their own personal pantry. Good luck and happy gardening!