Looking for natural ways to prevent pests in your garden this season? There are many natural ways to control pests in your garden without using harmful chemicals. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen shares her top tips for treating common garden pests naturally this season without using harsh chemicals. The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.
If you are a gardener, you will almost certainly have a problem with pests. Pests can range from a minor nuisance to a home garden to a major disaster. The more you know about common garden pests, the better you can plan your garden to prevent, avoid or trap them and minimize damage.
Garden pests can be small or large and can appear at any time during the growing season. Once you see one, you probably already have more than one! Some of the most common small pests include slugs, Japanese beetles, flea beetles, aphids and caterpillars. Larger nuisance animals include deer, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, mice, and birds.
Pests eat leaves, suck up plant SAP and burrow into fruits, vines and roots. Mammals and birds will eat your produce, chew the leaves, or dig up tender seedlings. It is very frustrating to watch waiting for the first ripe tomato of the year, only to be bitten by a hungry animal before it can ripen. Similarly, if you've been watching your plants grow and one day, you notice that the leaves are full of holes, you know it's time to take action!
In many cases, prevention is better than cure. There are some fairly simple ways to prevent pests from destroying your garden.
- Keep people away from your plants
- Make your plants extra healthy
- Bewilder pest
- Recruiting predators that prey on pests
- Make your garden environment hostile to pests
You don't need to use pesticides or harmful chemicals to deter most pests. In general, avoiding pesticides is better for the health of your garden. Insecticides are non-specific and will kill any insect that comes into contact with them. This includes beneficial insects, such as pollinators and insects that prey on problem insects.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at 15 tips that you can use to prevent and treat garden pests!
Don't invite mammals into your garden
Installing a fence is the easiest way to keep most mammals out of your garden. You may not be able to keep all mammals out of your garden with a fence, but you can prevent them from getting to your plants.
Fences need to be high to keep deer out, usually at least 6 to 8 feet high. In order to raise rabbits, there should be very small holes or no holes 2 feet below your fence. Squirrels are especially hard to stop because they can easily climb over or through most fences.
Another way to deter mammals is to remove any attractive mammal habitat from your garden area. Do not feed birds at the edge of the garden, as bird seeds also attract mammals.
Compost is also attractive to many mammals, so keep your compost pile separate from your garden or put the compost in a mammal-proof container. Also keep brush piles and stakes away from your garden, as these can provide shelter for many small mammals.
Weeds are not only unsightly, but can also cause many gardening problems. When your plants compete with thriving weeds, they are directly competing for light, water, and nutrients. Weeds can also protect and shelter pests. Bugs can easily hide in dense patches of weeds to feed, reproduce, and evade potential predators.
Check your garden plants regularly. Weeds grow quickly, so pull them up as soon as you see them sprout. The sooner you uproot weeds, the less chance they have of growing and reproducing.
Allowing weeds to blossom and go to seed will only create more weeds, more trouble, and possibly more pests. Keeping the garden weed-free will help reduce unnecessary pest-friendly habitat.
Keeping the garden clean will help naturally deter pests. Removing leaf debris, dead leaves, and decaying plant material can help control pests. Insects hide in leaf fragments.
In the winter, any dead plants in the garden can become a refuge for wintering insects, their larvae and eggs. If you had an insect or disease infestation last year, do not leave any part of the infected or diseased plant in the garden and reproduce it again this year.
It may be tempting to have a pile of trash in your garden, but it's best to keep some distance between garden trash and healthy plants. Decaying plants are magnets for pests and disease, so you're better off keeping your garden waste in a completely separate area.
When you inspect your plants, remove all leaves, stems, or entire plants that are dead, diseased, or infested. Don't wait for small problems to become big problems. Be proactive and clean things up.
Do some dilution
Overcrowded plants are prone to disease. Plants benefit from good air circulation. Good air circulation helps prevent common fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and black spot. Allowing plenty of air circulation and space to grow also helps plants stay healthy, and healthy plants are stronger and more resistant to pests and diseases than less healthy plants.
Another reason to trim plants and avoid overcrowding is to help protect them from pests. If you have a dense field of tasty plants, any pest that finds it can quickly move from one plant to another, getting full, laying eggs along the way.
Pests can also find tasty plants more easily if they are densely distributed. Pests like slugs, thrips, aphids, and caterpillars all thrive in dense, crowded, moist jungles of foliage, protected from predators.
Use the soil well
Good, healthy garden soil isn't just "dirt." Soil is a vibrant ecosystem that is well worth investing in to create it. Provide high-quality, nutrient-rich soil for your plants.
The best way to add natural superpowers to your soil is to add some organic compost. Work in the compost, then cover the surface of the soil with mulch to retain moisture and reduce weed seed germination.
Maintaining a good balance and healthy garden soil is one of the best things you can do to improve plant health. Healthy plants are robust and more resistant to pests.
In addition to using compost on a regular basis, you can also try growing cover crops to add nutrient-rich plants to your garden and then till to improve soil quality. Cover crops often include clovers or other types of legumes that can help replenish nutrients back into the soil and reduce nutrient consumption.
Mulch is both decorative and very useful. Any mulch can help hold water in the soil. Organic, biodegradable mulch, such as wheat stalks, can help nourish the soil when broken down. Mulch also protects against some common garden pests.
Mulch can provide a useful layer of protection between vegetables and bare soil, where many pests hide. Slugs, beetles and earthworms all live in or on the soil, while vine borers burrow into exposed stems.
Adding a layer of straw mulch to plant roots can help protect exposed stems from these pesky vine borers. The mulch also prevents the fruit from touching the ground and from attracting other pests and diseases through direct contact with the soil.
Water the plants properly
Plants can get thirsty at any time, but early morning watering does have some benefits, especially for the health of the plant. Plants use water efficiently first thing in the morning.
Before the weather gets hot and sunny, they soak up the necessary moisture to start the day fresh and ready for the important photosynthesis process. Another benefit of early morning watering is that the water has more chance of being absorbed by the soil and plant roots, rather than evaporating in the midday sun.
When you are watering, try to water garden plants from the bottom, not spray on the leaves. Using a soak hose or drip irrigation system is a great way to get water where it is needed most: at the roots. Some people sprinkle water on the leaves without letting it soak into the soil. Plants benefit from deep soil-penetrating water a few times a week, which is much better than the occasional light rain.
Now you may be wondering, how does proper watering help protect plants from pests? As with other aspects of plant care, healthy plants are resistant plants, and well-watered plants are healthy plants. Weak plants with water trapped on their leaves can attract pests and diseases
You can also use water to get rid of pests. I know I just said try not to get water on the leaves, but sometimes that can be a good thing!
If your plant has a bunch of insects on its leaves, sometimes a solid stream of water is enough to knock them off and disperse them. While this doesn't really remove pests from your garden, it can sometimes confuse them and give plants a distinct advantage without using any harmful chemicals.