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 gardenflowerfairy@​yahoo.​com.

Summer 2017

Volume 35 , Number 3

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