From the Garden: Keep Pests Away the Chemical Free Way!

By Erin Breglia

mailto:gardenflowerfairy@yahoo...It is a gift to be able to rearrange nature when creating beautiful landscapes or raising plants to suit our needs. But we must remember that what we create is not necessarily what nature intended. Unwanted bugs and animals, what we call “pests”, are simply nature at work. Therefore, we must be responsible gardeners and try to control these nuisances with as few chemicals as possible.

Strong smells are the principal deterrent to many garden pests. These objectionable odors can vary. Hot pepper, vinegar, scented soap, human hair, coffee grounds, and strong herbs are all effective. All of these applications will need to be repeated throughout the growing season. Any type of hot pepper can be sprinkled around plants to deter animals. The pepper will need to be re-sprinkled after rain. A longer lasting option is soaking some rags or corn cobs in vinegar and placing them throughout your garden. Animals such as rabbit, deer, and raccoons cannot stand the smell of vinegar and will stay away. This remedy lasts about two weeks.

Another approach is to hang heavily scented soaps in nylon bags on stakes throughout garden beds. Human hair also has the same effect and can be laid out around plants, although it loses its scent in about three weeks. A local hair salon would no doubt be willing to allow you to take cut hair from time to time.

Coffee grounds are a personal favorite of mine. My soil is slightly alkaline, so the acidity of the grounds does not affect my plants. Coffee grounds have also been known to deter slugs, and I’ve spread them around the base of my tomato and pepper plants with considerable success.

Given the unusually wet weather we’ve had this spring, slugs are a persistent problem. Another option for slug control is diatomaceous earth. This natural product is made of the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms. It causes slugs (and snails) to dry out by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the slug’s exoskeleton. It needs to be reapplied throughout the season. Other options are oyster shells and Epsom salts.

Plant herbs and flowers to deter pests, especially insects. Basil can be used to keep houseflies and mosquitoes away. Try planting it in planters near outdoor seating areas and doorways. Mint and lavender can be used in this same way.

Ticks despise the odor of garlic so try planting it in your garden. You can also place crushed garlic around the garden border. Think of unique ways to hide the cloves such as under leaves or in rock edges, etc. Other options include rosemary, rue, and chrysanthemum.

At Landis, we maintain the gardens with as few chemicals as possible – and with the help of many volunteers. If you are interested in lending a helping hand and learning garden tips in the process, feel free to contact me at

Summer 2017

Volume 35 , Number 3

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