We’re all eager with anticipation this time of year as we begin to plant our new seedlings into the ground, but nothing puts a damper on your gardening groove quite like pest damage. Our gardens can look like a free buffet for deer, rodents, and insects, so to protect new plantings from getting devoured, take these few additional measures for pest prevention. It will save you loads of trouble in the long run, and it ensures your vegetables will end up on your own plate— not Bambis or Thumpers!
Deer can really do a number on our gardens. They’re big pests with big appetites, so an untended vegetable garden can get cleared out in the blink of an eye. Luckily, there are a few ways to keep them out of your yard and away from your precious plants.
Hedges and fences. A tall barrier blocking deer from getting into your garden will work wonders. Keep in mind, deer are pretty good jumpers, so it will need to be at least 8 feet tall. While there aren’t many hedges that are quite that tall, you can always opt for a plant that deer dislike, like boxwood.
Spray deer repellent on your vulnerable plants. All-natural deer repellent sprays made with spicy extracts that are unappetizing to deer work great at keeping them away from your plants. Spray them twice a month starting in the spring and if there’s been a lot of rain, give them a few extra sprays.
Plant pest-repelling plants near their favorites. Vegetables, roses, pansies, and many other blossoms are definite favorites among the deer population, but there are a ton of plants they really dislike, too. By planting deer-repelling plants near veggies and tasty flowers, they’ll be much less inclined to graze. Here are some effective anti-deer plants:
- Bleeding Hearts
- Black-Eyed Susans
Rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents, as cute as they are, can be a real pain to deal with. They’re expert diggers, so a fence isn’t always effective at keeping them out. Instead, we have to get creative with ways to keep them away. Here are a few tried and true methods for keeping them at bay:
Put up some plant cages. Make sure they’re buried deep into the soil, at least 6 inches, so the critters can’t easily burrow their way underneath.
Use repellants around your plants, cages, and garden perimeter. We carry a fabulous organic formula called Rabbit Scram, and as the name suggests, it’s quite effective at keeping rabbits away. It doesn’t hurt rabbits—it just triggers a response in them, signalling to their brain that danger is near. If other unwanted visitors, like raccoons, groundhogs. and skunks have been popping up, try Messina Wildlife’s Animal Stopper. It’s formulated with cinnamon, rosemary, and mint oil, and while the scent may be pleasant to us, it’s a big turn-off for pests.
Plant pest-repelling plants near their favorites. As with deer, while there are many flowers and vegetables that are beloved by rodents, there are many others that are quite unappealing. Mix these plants into your garden bed arrangement to reduce your risk of pest damage:
- Butterfly Bush
By far the easiest natural solution for keeping creepy crawlies out of your garden is to plant pest-repelling plants, but you can also double down on prevention by regularly spraying down plants with a castile soap and water solution. This should help repel insects and will also kill the ones that have already made an appearance without leaving harmful chemical residue on your plants. Applying drops of neem oil around your garden will also ward off insect predators without introducing anything toxic into your soil.
Here’s a list of common insects that munch on the contents of our garden, and the plants that will help keep them away:
Aphids: These tiny bugs create significant damage quickly, by sucking out the sap from plants, leaving behind a sticky residue. Keep them away by planting dill, fennel, chives, marigolds, alliums, nasturtiums, and petunias.
Slugs: These slimy, little creatures can seriously wreak havoc on vegetable gardens but, luckily, they hate many common herbs, like thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, garlic, and parsley. For extra protection, a few shallow saucers of beer hid throughout your garden will send those slugs running for the hills.
Cucumber Beetles: These hungry beetles earned their name honestly, as they’re notorious for feasting on cucumber gardens. Keep them away by planting radishes, nasturtium, dill, and tansy.
Sometimes when pests get out of control, you have to whip out the big guns: insecticides. We carry several specially formulated products that eliminate a wide range of garden pests with great success. Here’s some of our top picks:
Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew: This potent formula is approved for organic gardeners, and helps drive out several different damaging insects— even notoriously tough Japanese and Cucumber Beetles.
Bonide Slug Magic: This potent pellet formula baits and kills slugs and snails without posing any risk to your pets, and it’s safe to use in edible gardens, so you don’t have to worry about your fruits and veggies becoming compromised by the added formula.
Bonide Diatomaceous Earth: This full-strength DE is suitable for use indoors and outdoors, at home, in stables and barns, or in and around your garden. Ants, mites, beetles, fleas, and even bed bugs don’t stand a chance against this powerful formula that kills any insects that come into contact within 48 hours.
Pyrethrin:This naturally-sourced insecticide is extracted from chrysanthemums, and it’s a fantastic option for broad-spectrum insect control. The concentrated formula is suitable for use on vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, and even your most delicate ornamentals.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, if you want to make sure your garden is healthy and thriving all season long, take the necessary measures to prevent unwanted pests from feasting on your greens.