Garden pests come in all shapes and sizes, which makes gardening a challenging endeavor at times. The best preventative measure to take to encourage a pest-free garden is to keep your soil healthy and the pH levels balanced. However, we know that a healthy garden attracts raccoons, rabbits, beetles and more. We’ve compiled an arsenal of 22 tried-and-true ways to combat garden pests naturally, without the use of harsh pesticides.
1. Birds consume lots of insects and are a natural and attractive garden resident. Lure bug-eating birds to your garden area by placing a birdbath regularly filled with fresh water. This will also deter them from picking a tomato for the juice. Erect a bird feeder close by as well. Keep it filled with seeds in late autumn through early spring. Thus, the garden will be their existing haven and when summer rolls around they will feed on the insects at hand.
2. Guinea fowl set loose in the garden or lawn will eat ticks, hornworms, and Japanese beetles. Most won’t scratch or ruin plants or eat the vegetables as chickens may.
3. Dust green beans with garden lime to repel Japanese beetles.
4. Food-grade diatomaceous earth acts as a natural, abrasive barrier to crawling insects. Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth beneath growing watermelon, cantaloupe, squash and all fruits and vegetables resting on the ground, as well as on plant leaves.
5. To deter cabbage moths (worms) from eating the leaves of cabbage, Brussels sprouts or kale, add 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper to 1 quart of water. Place in a spray bottle and apply to leaves, stems and the ground directly surrounding each plant.
6. Grasshoppers and aphids cause havoc in flowerbeds and vegetable gardens. Here’s a repelling spray you can make: Blend 2 – 4 hot peppers, 1 mild green pepper, and 1 small onion and one quart jar of water. Pour mixture into a bottle with a spray nozzle and apply as needed.
7. An all-purpose pest-control spray can easily be made by adding 2 teaspoon liquid detergent to warm water in a spray bottle.
8. Stop squirrels from digging up planted corn with a mixture of 2 tablespoons liquid fish fertilizer to a gallon of water sprayed on rows.
9. Discourage bigger pests such as a cat or dog from entering flower or garden beds by erecting lots of thin sticks or plastic forks in the ground among the seed beds, and surrounding young, tender plant starts. This leaves no room for animals to dig or disturb the plants, helping them get a good start.
10. Scatter dried blood meal (available at any home and garden center) on the ground between rows of vegetables in the garden every week to 10 days to deter deer. This works for rabbit and groundhogs, too. However, the blood meal tends to attract dogs. Sprinkle garden lime on top of the blood meal to repel the dogs.
11. Bright orange tape wrapped around stakes surrounding your garden plot has been known to keep moose away.
12. Keep raccoons, skunks and snakes out of the garden by applying a wide stripe of gardem lime around the garden perimeter. When an unwanted critter licks off the lime it will experience an unpleasant burning sensation, and hopefully leave the garden.
13. Plant onions and or garlic as an insect deterrent around or between all the other plants that insects tend to disturb.
14. Keep borers from drilling into the base of fruit trees in the orchard by planting a circle of onions or garlic around the tree trunk.
15. Garlic planted alongside raspberries will stop beetles from destroying the crop.
16. Bush beans planted in alternative rows with potatoes protect them against the Colorado potato beetle (pictured). The potatoes in return keep bush beans from the Mexican bean beetle.
17. Radishes deter beetles when planted around crops of beans, peas, squash, melons, and cucumbers.
18. Plant basil next to tomato plants to help protect them from attack of harmful insects and disease. This will also enhance the plant’s growth.
19. The aromatic herb rosemary is a valuable companion plant in the vegetable garden as it deters bean beetles, cabbage moths, and carrot flies.
20. Interplanting catnip and tansy with zucchinis and cucumbers reduces the population of cucumber beetles.
21. Plant petunia flowers around beans and potatoes. Petunias help keep the Colorado potato beetles away.
22. Grow tansy to discourage ants and aphids from the garden and greenhouse. Plant it around your garden, and buildings. Ants carry aphids. Discouraging ants will help keep aphids away from the garden.
Strategies For The Gardener
- To remove tiny seed ticks quickly from your clothing when working on the lawn or in the garden, use duct tape or packing tape. Press the tape down and pull off seed ticks for instant relief.
- To keep gnats away from your face, while working outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat. Gnats will not fly under the brim and make a nuisance.
- Make yourself unattractive to bees and flying pests. When working outdoors, don’t wear perfume, hairspray, scented deodorant, or brightly colored clothing.