We've been busy the last two weeks getting the gardens planted and trying to keep the critters away. I try to use natural methods to critter proof , sometimes you have to get creative. I was slack with the broccoli and cabbage , the worms almost destroyed the crop. About the time the plants took growth , we started having rain everyday for about a week and the cabbage worms started munching away. I finally made a powder that consisted of plain flour , crushed red pepper and ground cayenne pepper. I sprinkled it on the plants , it took a couple of days before I saw results , during that time I was handpicking worms and feeding them to the chickens each morning. The flour mixture works well , but you have to reapply after each rain , that's why I was so slack about adding it during that rainy week. I'm happy to report , the broccoli and cabbage are starting to head and I see no signs of worms .
The major garden problem around here are deer , we've found the best way to keep them at bay is to add new attractions to the garden often. I hang anything that shines , paper or plastic bags , banners , flags , milk jugs , tin pans , anything that makes noise. Scarecrows help , but deer get use to seeing them and eventually make their way to the garden. I have found that spraying the scarecrow with some kind of body spray , perfume or soap scents often work well. You could use essential oils or urine if you want to be totally organic. My Dad practiced the urine method , he would urinate in buckets and sit them on each end of the corn rows , it worked but you have to add fresh urine often.
The birds and crows don't like snakes , so I add plastic pipe or cords that look like snakes to keep them away from the newly planted seeds. In the photo above I planted a small patch of sunflower seeds , the tomato cages add a barrier , the bags add color and sound to keep the deer away and the plastic pipe keeps the birds away.
Another method I learned from my Grandma was to cut blackberry brambles and lay over your freshly planted seedlings , I have used that method for small garden beds. The picture above shows a small bed of lettuce with brambles laying over the bed. This method keeps cats and dogs from bedding down in your freshly planted garden beds or using the bed as a litter box.
Oh , and those horrid Japanese beetles , they're a real pest. I have used the beetle traps in the past , they work pretty well , but I didn't like putting them in the trash to go to the landfill. I have also used plastic yellow plates that I place under the plants and fill with soapy water to get rid of them. The beetles are attracted to the bright colored plates , fall in the water and drown. It takes alot of plates for our garden and you still have to dispose of them ( Yuck ). The best Japanese beetle control has been the guinea fowl , they love them. They'll walk down the garden rows picking them off the plants and disposing of them naturally. The guineas don't scratch like chickens , so they rarely cause a problem in the garden. They just wander through and pick off the bugs. The downside of the guinea fowl are the noise and their wandering ways. I've noticed in the Fall and Winter they have a tendency to wander further away from the homestead , we've had several that got ran over on the road because of this. But in the Spring and Summer while they are laying , they stay close to the nesting area. They always nest near their roosting area which is near the garden area , so it works out well for pest control during garden season.
I tried putting frog/toad huts in the garden to attract frogs and toads to help with bug control. But , the only thing I attracted were Black Widow spiders and although spiders help with bug control , I wasn't fond of having the poisonous ones hanging out in the garden , so I stopped doing that. Has anyone else had success with the frog/toad huts or are they primarily for decoration?
So these are a few of the things we do for pest control. I would love to hear from all you gardeners any other tips that work to keep pest under control naturally.
~ Garden Blessings ~