Locally grown produce is healthier and tastier than store-bought fruits and vegetables. However, home gardeners are often discouraged by pest invasions.
Here are 10 tips for preventing pests in your garden.
1. Encourage Other Bugs
While certain bugs hurt your crops, others can help them grow. Parasitic wasps, hoverflies and ladybugs are natural predators of many garden pests.
You can attract these insects to your garden by planting flowers like scented geraniums, cosmos and fennel. These plants attract ladybugs, which feast on aphids and parasitic pests before they can cause damage.
Parasitoid wasps may sound scary, but they don’t harm humans and feast on aphids, caterpillars, beetles, leafhoppers, flies and other pests that threaten your crops. Research which insects eliminate bugs in your area and plant what attracts them in your garden.
2. Fill The Space
Whether pets or strays, cats and dogs also like to munch on garden plants. However, there are simple ways to keep your furry friends out of your garden without harming them.
These larger creatures must navigate through your garden. You can prevent that by securing plastic forks or chopsticks between crop rows. These space fillers make it challenging for cats and dogs to travel in your garden, preventing them from eating your crops.
If they dig up the forks or chopsticks, insert metal rods or wood planks securely between your rows instead.
3. Attract Birds
Birds are your No. 1 friend to protect your garden. They can eat a lot of insects before they get a chance to feast on your plants.
You can improve your garden’s health by providing bird baths, feeders and nesting locations.
Cardinals, bluebirds, orioles, wrens, titmice and many other species love to take care of your pests for you.
4. Plant Against Mosquitoes
Many plants act as sensory deterrents for mosquitoes. Basil, lavender, citronella and peppermint will overwhelm them and prevent them from attacking nearby plants. Intermix these plants with your fruits and vegetables for a great way to protect them from pests.
5. Use Physical Barriers
Barriers are a simple, noninvasive way to keep pests out of your garden. Mesh is a common way to keep out bugs and mammals.
Pop-up tents and greenhouses are also excellent ways to give your plants the best chance of success. They typically don’t filter air, so you must open windows or flaps during hot weather.
These barriers have advantages over mesh. They can warm your crops, allowing you to plant them off-season or protect them during cold nights.
6. Top With Diatomaceous Earth
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for you and your crops. It is readily available at many garden stores. Sprinkle it on your crops to deter stink bugs, mice, centipedes, beetles and other garden pests.
7. Add Dried Blood Meal
Blood meal deters deer, rabbits and groundhogs from visiting your garden. You can find it at many garden centers and spread it around your garden every week. Placing lime on top also makes this solution good at deterring dogs. Dried blood meal is an excellent fertilizer for your plants.
8. Make Homemade All-Purpose Spray
You can make a safe all-purpose pesticide spray with an item you likely have around your home. Simply fill a spray bottle with warm water and add 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap. Spray the mixture on your plants to deter various pests.
9. Season Your Crops
Grasshoppers and aphids are some of the most invasive garden pests, but you can scare them off naturally. The scents and flavors of pepper and onion are major deterrents.
Season your crops with a solution made by blending an onion, a couple of hot peppers, a mild green pepper and a quart of water, and spray the mixture all over your plants. Apply it as a precaution and as needed through the growing season.
10. Grow Pest-Resistant Crops
Many seed varieties can deter pests. They enable you to grow crops that will prevent bugs from affecting them.
The resistance comes from creating hybrid crops with genes that enable the plants to cope with pests. Some seeds also have a pesticide coating, helping them repel intruders before an infestation occurs. Choose varieties that resist local pests to give your garden the best chance.
Preventing Garden Pests
Pests love your produce almost as much as you do. These tips can keep them from ruining your crops so you can enjoy them all season long.
Jane is an environmental writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers sustainability and eco-friendly living.