Oh, how we love our gardens. How many other things in this life can nurture us, body and soul, quite like a lovingly tended garden? But there’s no lack of pesky pests who love our gardens too. Even a novice gardener knows that keeping the hungry critters away from your precious produce or flowers is more than half the battle. Nature offers no free rides, and garden pests are her way of making you work for your bounty.
These days, there are all kinds of chemical weapons to use against the pervasive enemy – not to mention genetically-altered Franken-plants that are resistant to pests. But what fun is there in that? And besides, who wants to ingest (or look at) chemically polluted, mutant plants? Luckily there are ways to fight back naturally – and cheaply, too.
· Get rid of slugs. Who would have thought that a living organism that resembles nothing more closely than an exceptionally large booger could be so destructive? There’s a reason slugs are hermaphroditic (meaning they possess both female and male sex organs): it’s because they can’t get a date, being as they’re both ugly and they eat too much. But they have one dirty little secret: They love stale, warm beer. And can you really blame them? Put a shallow bowl in your garden, bury it to the rim, and fill it up with your favorite brew. The slugs will climb in for a sip and a swim and die with a smile on their faces. Hey, there are worse ways to go.
· Put your kitchen waste to use. Lots of different pests can be kept at bay by putting certain kinds of kitchen waste around the patch. Coffee grounds, egg shells, and citrus fruit rinds can be very effective. Animals like cats and dogs, raccoons and rabbits, and even deer really turn their noses up at orange and lemon peels.
· Goodbye, deer. These cute but naughty garden devastators have a very developed sense of smell – so odors work well at keeping them away. Try cutting up some soap and hang in the garden in some used panty hose. Rotten eggs also work well. Feeling brave? Dog’s urine makes deer very nervous, and they’ll try to stay away from anywhere they smell it. Of course, a good fence is the best defense against deer and other four-footed predators.
· Bring in the good guys. There are many types of insects that are beneficial, meaning they’ll dine on the bad bugs. To bring in the good bugs, you’ll need some attractive plants. Queen Anne’s Lace, Butterfly Weed, parsley, carrots and chamomile are all known to attract wasps and other beneficial insects that will protect your garden.
· Eliminate squash bugs. Ducks love ‘em; you could keep a gaggle (or is it a quack?) of ducks around your garden, but the birds present their own problems and are usually more trouble than they’re worth. For most folks, hand picking the little buggers, though tedious and time-consuming, is still the best way to combat this ancient foe.
· Think like Elmer Fudd. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has some tips for keeping rabbits away from the rabbit food. The book suggests sprinkling dried blood, dried sulfur and Irish Spring shavings around the plot. It also advises planting onions around the garden perimeter to dissuade the Fudd foes from the buffet.
Garden pests are a pain and a fact of a gardener’s life – but with a little vigilance and perseverance you can keep them, for the most part, away from your garden.