It's a time when all things come to life. All things. As in: flowers...herbs...veggies...tree leaves...and yes, garden pests of every possible description, hungry for all that gorgeous greenery springing up around you.
Of course, you already know this, because as an all-things-green appreciator, you've fought these notoriously hungry harbingers of springtime your entire gardening career. And though we can feel sympathy for the poor little bugs and other critters that are, after all, little ones just trying to survive, that sentimental feeling stops dead (no pun intended) when we see the mess they make yearly of our hard-worked, hard-earned and lovingly tended lawns and gardens.
But green gardeners run into a big dilemma when it comes to pest control. For one thing, not all “natural” forms of pest control are non-toxic, particularly to other animals such as favorite pets. For another, some bugs are beneficial but might be wiped out along with the “bad guys.” On the opposite side of the coin, a too-gentle method won't really do anything at all. What's an organic gardener to do?
We unearthed (see what we did there?) five GREAT ways to keep the populations you don't want down to a dull roar. In the meantime, check back frequently on your garden, pull weeds as soon as they pop up in order to make the environment less friendly to hungry bugs, and if one method doesn't work for you, try another until you've tweaked things to your (and your garden's) sweet spot.
Here are our top choices to keep pests out of your garden.
1. Aphids and Mites:
1 qt. Water ½ tsp. Dish detergent (unscented, non-anti-bacterial) 1 T. canola oil
Directions: This method coats the insects and suffocates them. Mix ingredients together in a spray bottle by shaking well. Spray entire plant (bottom and top of leaves; flower petals; stem). Do NOT over-coat. A gentle but thorough spraying should work. Do not re-spray any one area per spraying. If you need to do this again at a future date, re-spray the entire plant then.
Directions: Slugs are a constant issue among gardeners who contact us, and they can do an amazing amount of damage. Sprinkle diamtomaceous earth around your garden or around specific areas where you're experiencing slug issues. The tiny diatomes in the diatomaceous earth are sharp and are harmful to pests such as slugs, who will not cross the line (literally or figuratively).
2 qts. water 1 T. baking soda
Directions: Yep...these are living creatures too! And they LOVE your plants, and moisture in general. Combat them by combining the above two ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray the entire area and outside the visible area by about an inch in circumference.
4. Apple Maggots:
1 qt. molasses 5 qts. water 2 cups white vinegar
Directions: Apple maggots climb apple trees, bore into apples and grow up there. They leave unsightly and unhygienic holes in the eventual apples. These apples will begin to rot before maturity, so even using them by cutting out the affected area can be tricky. The above list is to make a trap for the maggots. They are attracted to the sweetness of the molasses but can not move once they're in it, so they can't get to your apples. Mix well. Pour into a hanging box or pail. You may want to use a red container so they are attracted to the brightness, as they would be attracted to apples.
2 T. hot sauce (any kind) ¼ c. water
Directions: These aren't bugs, fungus or mildew, but they can do some SERIOUS damage to your garden in just one night, much less night after night. Simply mix the two ingredients above and spray your plants. Deer can't stand the hot sauce taste and will go running.
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