It is extremely frustrating to find tiny bite marks in your beautiful plants after you’ve spent so many hours taking care of them. Aphids, snails and small animals like rabbits love to snack on plants, fruits and vegetables, and left unattended they’ll demolish your garden.
A self-regulating ecosystem is the best way to control unwanted pests and keep your plants healthy. This can be achieved by incorporating a mixture of plants in your garden. The more variety of greens you have, they better mixture of pest-eating animals you’ll attract. Ideally, these plants should provide food (like nectar, fruit and pollen) and shelter for good predators. You can also plant “sacrificial crops” to control pest colonies. For example, let a few pigweed or ragweed plants grow near your peppers. Leaf-eating creatures prefer the taste of these weeds to peppers. Similarly, a clump of nettles will harbour aphids, and aphids will feed plant-friendly predators like ladybugs and lacewings.
Additionally, to combat aphids:
- Grow plants that attract predators of aphids. Sweet alyssum, parsley, buckwheat, and sunflowers will bring parasitic wasps while dill, Queen Anne’s Lace yarrows, and fennel attract ladybugs.
- Aphids don’t like certain strongly scented plants like chives, basil, catnip, yarrow, and mint.
To eliminate snails:
- Place crushed up eggshells on the earth beneath the plants they like to nibble on. The sharp edges of eggshells will be too much for the snails to handle, but they won’t kill the slimy pests either.
- Create a beer trap by placing a shallow dish of beer at ground level near the plants being eaten. Snails are very attracted to beer, and when they crawl into the dish they eventually drown.
- Garden snakes and toads are the best animals to attract to your garden for slug control. They eat small pests like snails and won’t damage your plants.
To deter rabbits:
- Create a barrier using fencing similar to chicken wire. The fence should be about six inches below ground (so they can’t dig their way in) and a couple of feet high.
- Rabbits don’t like the smell of garlic, and they aren’t fond of peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn and squash.
- Make a spicy organic repellent spray consisting of water, dish soap and a dash of hot sauce.
To scare off squirrels:
- Install sprinkler systems, sensitive motion lights or high-frequency sound emitters.
- Squirrels don’t like the smell of garlic, hot peppers or peppermint.
- Use the hot sauce spray mentioned in the previous section to keep squirrels at bay.
Lastly, one of the best ways to protect your garden from infestation is to grow and maintain healthy plants; sickly plants make for easy targets. Using Less Mess topsoil or mulch can help keep your plants nourished and hydrated. Click here to learn more about the Less Mess Advantage.