A few simple precautions will go a long way to prevent garden pests this year. You may have suffered plant damage in other years, you may even have felt like giving up on having a garden. Why bother? If all you do is feed the wild creatures, you've probably said. Don't despair, here are a few tricks that help you prevent garden pests and reclaim your garden.
There are many different types of pests that can ruin your good work in the garden. The most common are insects and they can destroy a garden in a very short time if left to their own devices. So learning to prevent garden pests becomes a necessity
Even the neighbor's cat (or your own) can be a pest when it uses your garden as it's private bathroom. Birds can be another reason for concern if they are eating your plants and feasting on your fruit and berries, always just the day before you plan to pick them.
Pests will use your garden primarily for food and shelter. To prevent garden pests in your garden you need to create an environment that isn't as inviting.
The easiest way to prevent garden pests is to discourage them from coming in the first place. In other words, the trick is to not invite them.
Here are 5 easy prevention methods that are natural and harmless to you, or the environment.
1. Have Healthy Soil: Clear leaves and waste from the base of plants. This will allow you to work the soil better and eliminate the incidence of in-ground insects that can suck the nutrients out of the soil. Add compost to the soil and use also as a top dressing. Healthy plants are stronger and, just like people, more able to fight off disease. If you mulch, use clean mulch. Some mulches, like seaweed, not only build up the soil but will repel certain pests like slugs. Add it to your compost and use as a top dressing.
2. Discourage Small Animals: Stop cats, rats and mice from digging in the soil by using effective ground cover in the form of mesh making it too difficult for them to dig into the soil. Some people recommend using mothballs to keep cats away.
3. Keep it Clean: Keep your compost in correct composting containers. Compost is not just a heap of waste - it needs to be worked properly.
Keep a tidy garden and yard and you will not encourage rats and mice to make their home on your property.
Over run? It is a health hazard. Traps might be needed as a final deterrent for rats and mice. It might be wise to seek advice.
Remove diseased or infested plants and dispose of them separately, preferably away from your garden area. Make sure you clean your gloves and garden tools well before you move on to another area so you don't spread disease or any pest infestation.
4. Chase Them Off: Spraying your plants with suitable repellents will also reduce the unwanted insect population. There are some good natural applications on the market that will do the job of commercial insecticides but you can make your own effective natural insecticide for mere pennies.
5. Birds and Deer: Birds are wonderful until they eat your berries and fruit or pluck seedlings out of the ground. But there are some easy, ecologically safe deterrents you can use. Visual things like plastic owls are effective though you may need to move them every few days to make them uncertain of their safety. Anything metallic, like streamers or old CDs, tied to a stick or branch of your fruit trees and berry bushes - after all, you deserve some perfect berries - will work as long as it moves.
Around orchards you often see netting in use - but this may not add to the attractiveness of your property. You'll have to weigh that in the balance of whether you want to lose your crop against how easy it is to place and remove the netting.
Pruning back trees and hedges might make them less appealing to birds and this might help to reduce the population in your garden.
We loved to watch the deer wandering through our yard until they began munching on green tomatoes. They do much worse damage than that - often trampling and destroying a garden patch overnight -and in late Spring can also be carriers of ticks. In the last few years we've also seen too many reports of deer attacking people (slashing deer hooves are no joke)- so finding half our potential crop lying on the ground ruined by small nibbles soon became a minor issue to other potential hazards.
Here's a few tricks we've learned over the years.
Human hair - I first learned about this in Organic Gardening magazine many decades ago. It seems it works. First we just sprinkled it on the ground but hta's just not enough. Ask your friendly neighbourhood barbers or hair dressers for hair and hang it in mesh bags about 3 feet ( deer head height) off the ground.
Sound and Water - some people leave a small radio playing and say that's enough to keep the deer out. Or have motion sensors that turn on sprinkler systems. Try it but it may not work for long. Deer aren't that dumb - or maybe they learn to like the music! These might work just long enough for you to find another option.
Soap - hanging bars of very fragrant soap from branches works well in trees. Remember the if they're too high, the deer might miss them.
Covering young plants: Using row covers or individual covers over plants will help to give young plants a chance to grow. Hopefully by then, natural food supplies will be plentiful for the deer - somewhere else.
Plants - I have noticed that deer have never eaten the catmint that used to grow in abundance near more delectable plants. Yarrow also is supposed to not be to their liking. If they're hungry enough, they aren't too fussy though.
Fencing - this could be a very expensive way to prevent garden pests but sometimes it's the only option. Fencing to deer needs to be quite high - 8 to 10 feet at a minimum.
Another day, another deer. sigh.
Sometimes you don't want to prevent garden pests!
This one we've watched grow from a fawn.
But - let me tell you my deer fencing story. First, I like to deter, not destroy, animals. One year, living as we were on an acreage surrounded by wooded public park and green space, my father-in-law put up very tall fence posts around our garden patch. Since we lived on the West Coast near Gibson's, B.C. he had lots of access to heavy thick old fish net. He hung this up from the tops of the poles until it completely surrounded the garden. Not our choice, but it was highly visible. One day our cat got caught up in it so that was no fun.
And then, one evening we watched a beautiful deer run across the field and leap right into the netting about 5 or 6 feet off the ground. She was completely caught up in it, wildly thrashing. We had a choice of watching her struggle uselessly, shooting her to make a quick end to her suffering, or...my husband went out there and somehow cut through the net and extracted the panicked deer. Animal hero, yes, he was, but this was extremely dangerous. (I think I was having hysterics) After a brief pause, she scampered off safely and unharmed.
Perhaps I don't have to mention how angry my husband was - or how quickly he removed that netting. It was never seen again.
So when "I" say fencing, I mean something that is safe for all. Which brings me to:
Fishing Line - I worry when I hear about people tying fish line around their garden - I worry not just for the animals but also for people who might have to watch an animal suffer needlessly. I'd rather they ate the food. If you do use fishing line, understand that the deterrent is that if it touches their nose but is something unseen, they will avoid the area. Therefore, tie it around your garden then, one line about 2 feet off the ground for younger deer, and about 4 to 5 feet for older deer to catch them about nose height.
As you're planning the best ways to prevent garden pests, keep in mind that some insects do a good job of maintaining a balance in the garden by eating other insects and birds will also eat insects that could be causing damage to your plants.
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