Now that August is finally here the gardens are bursting with great produce, big plants --- and lots and lots of plant pests. Big bugs… Little bugs….deer…wood chucks…mice… moles… squirrels… and probably things that I’ve never seen in my eastern USA urban garden!
Well, the first thing you need to do is determine if you want to rid yourself of the critters in the first place. Many people would gladly donate a few too many zucchini to the deer. Just place them AWAY from your garden area. Some caterpillars grow to be lovely butterflies! The green striped caterpillars on fennel and dill grow to be beautiful Eastern Swallowtails. The green "worms" on cabbage and broccoli grow to be those cute cabbage white butterflies. You may choose to just leave them to pupate in their cocoons, and turn into beautiful butterflies! Or you can pick a sacrificial plant and put the little caterpillars on it to finish up. Then you can eat the others.
But if plant pests are really ruining your garden there are cheap, natural things you can do to stop invading bean bugs, squash beetles, and noshing rabbits. Most involve repelling the unwanted visitors. Like the bigger sort of unwanted guests, if the situation is less than comfortable, they move on to other climes.
The easiest method to get rid of insects on your plants is just a good spray with the hose. Just blast them off the plants. Or if there are just a few hand pick by scraping them into a jar with a bit of vinegar in it…Gone.
For greater infestations a spray made of pure soap -- castile, or that you made yourself, a table spoon to a gallon of water will get soft bodied insects like aphids off your plants.
If the infestation is higher you may want to add strong garlic, mint or red pepper tea to the mild soapy water. These all serve as scents that repel insects by covering the natural odor of the plant. What cabbage white butterfly would lay its eggs on a broccoli plant that smells like mint tea?
If repellents don’t work, an inexpensive purchased solution is diatomaceous earth. This is a type of ground stone made from old dried sea beds. It is made up of dried diatoms microscopic sea life that have very sharp shells. It works by desiccating insects and ripping up their guts after ingestion. Make sure and get the food grade type… not the type used for swimming pool filters. This had been heat treated and can be harmful. The raw untreated type is a gray powder. You can also use it to powder pets for fleas!
These measures should handle most insect pests.
To repel the larger mammal type pests like rabbits and deer, Repellents work best. Garlic sticks work well. As do bags of human or dog hair hung around the garden. The can be gotten free from most barbers or dog groomers. Or cut your own!
If this doesn’t work you can buy relatively inexpensive rodent repellants from place like:
They sell small wicked scent bottles with sterilized predator urine inside. Yes -- urine! It is such a small amount that we don’ t smell it ---- but the rabbits do!!! And stay away. They have very funny and interesting site will tell you, for instance, whether mountain lion "scent" or fox will repel the garden pests in your area. They even have a part of the site that explains how they train the mountain lions to pee in the little bottles
Check out these garden sites for late season bargains!
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