The following is a list of solutions to certain types of pests and other problems that your garden may be facing this season:
To rid your vegetable patch or lawn of grubs, which are baby Japanese Beetles, you can use a natural remedy called Milky Spore. Milky Spore, or Bacillus popillae-Dutky, is a naturally occurring host specific bacterium. One application can last up two ten years, as the bacteria grows. Milky Spore is a good option because it kills only grubs, and will leave beneficial organisms in your garden, such as worms, unharmed.
Not to worry butterfly lovers, grubs and caterpillars that eat your leafy vegetables are not the same as butterfly babies. We’ll have more on this topic later.
Slugs and Snails
The best solution for dealing with slugs and snails is to use a combination of preventative and cultural methods. Baits alone will not take care of your problem. The first step is to eliminate their favorite hiding spots like overgrown weeds, piles of yard debris, low growing leafy branches and dense ground covers. Then do a little hand picking at night with a flashlight (great fun for kids!), set out a few beer traps, set up copper barriers around your raised beds and sprinkle a little Sluggo around your leafy greens (pet and wildlife safe).
You can keep mites off of your plants by applying a cheap, easy homemade solution. Mix together two tablespoons of cayenne pepper or hot sauce, a few drops of Ivory liquid soap, and one quart of water. Let this stand on your counter overnight, then pour it into a spray bottle and spray your plants the next morning. Shake the bottle frequently during application in order to keep the ingredients blended together. Spray only the effected plants, and reapply after rain.
Aphids and Mealybugs
A great solution for aphids is to release ladybugs in your garden. Ladybugs will eat the aphids and look pretty in your garden, too! If you prefer, you can also make a homemade solution with canola oil, which will smother the insects. Mix together one tablespoon of canola oil with a few drops of liquid Ivory soap and a quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray your plants from above, as well as the undersides of the leaves. Spray only the effected plants.
Baking soda is an effective and very inexpensive treatment for fungal plant diseases. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda in with a quart of warm water. Spray this on your plants first thing in the morning, and repeat applications every few days until the fungus has subsided. Spray only on the effected plants, and reapply after rain.
Powdery Mildew and Leaf Spot
An excellent remedy for these very pesky plant illnesses is Safer Concentrate. This product is a concentrated plant spray that contains the active ingredients Potassium Salts and Sulfur. Safer is approved for organic gardening because it is a natural pesticide that does not contain chemical ingredients. It should only be applied to the effected plants, and one take care to read the label carefully before application.
The average deer eats about 5 pounds of greenery per day, so that means that just one or two deer could level your garden pretty quickly! The best defense against deer (without harming them) is to apply a scent to your plants that will repel them. Try mixing together one cup of dairy milk, 2 tablespoons of canola oil, 2 tablespoons of liquid Ivory soap, 2 whole eggs, and 2 gallons of water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spray your plants. This mixture will withstand light rain because it is a bit sticky. If you have leftovers after one application, make sure to refrigerate them. Dispose of any leftovers after about a week.
Keep in mind however, there is no 100% effective defense against a hungry deer, other than a 7 foot tall fence.
Rabbits are very territorial little creatures, so you can actually keep a wild rabbit out of your garden by making it smell like another rabbit. One way to accomplish this is by sprinkling some domestic rabbit droppings, which you can get from a local pet store, in your garden. The droppings won’t hurt your soil. Rabbits are also not fans of hair, so you can place your own clippings, or the hair from your dog’s brush around your garden.
Prevention Is Key
It’s a lot easier to prevent pests in the first place than it is to deal with them once the occur. To prevent pests in your edible garden, follow these maintenance tips.
Minimize insect habitat
When plants are dead, pull them out. When veggies are ripe, harvest them. By keeping your garden clean and free of debris, you can eliminate the spots that pests find most attractive.
Keeping foliage dry is key to preventing mildew and fungus problems. Water early in the day so that your plants do not sit wet overnight.
Build healthy soil
Healthy plants have the strength to stand up to and resist a few pests. To grow strong plants, make sure to nourish your soil. Adding natural compost to your edible garden is a great way to encourage healthy soil and vigorous plants. Use natural fertilizers, such as Haven Cow Manure Tea and Down to Earth All Purpose Fertilizer to encourage the growth of beneficial microorganisms and feed your plants without depleting your soil of nutrients.
Be a good babysitter
Keeping your edible garden free of pests means that you need to babysit it daily. Every day, set aside a little bit of time to closely examine your plants. If you see a bug or two, you can easily pull them off your plants with a gloved hand. This can prevent them from multiplying and becoming a big problem in the long run.