Vegetable Garden Tips for Keeping Unwanted Pests Away

November 20, 2015 Uncategorized No Comments

Growing a vegetable garden is very rewarding. As you watch your crops come to fruition and begin to enjoy those tasty, nutritious fruits and vegetables, you are certain to take pride in your efforts and realize the many benefits of your new found hobby.

One thing can quickly squelch the wonderful feeling gardeners experience when spending time with their plants.  Stepping into the garden and finding destruction where healthy bushes, trees and vines once lived can quickly dampen your spirits and instead, leave you feeling anxious and stressed.

Red pepper with bio-hazard tape. Genetically modified food or pesticide concept

When pesky bugs and unwanted animals ruin your crops, your first instinct might be to spray chemicals or resort to unnatural or inhumane methods for keeping them away. While effective, these methods come with many negative side effects including reducing the size and beauty of your garden, impacting the food chain and deterring welcomed visitors like birds, butterflies and friendly insects. Pesticides also make the fruits and vegetables you harvest less safe to eat and seep into your water supply, potentially causing dangerous consequences for your family. Instead of resorting to chemicals, consider natural methods first. Here are a few tips to get you started.

A Morning Cup of Joe for Your Veggies

Coffee beans  and plant grow on wood

Coffee grounds are a wonderful addition in any vegetable garden. They deter unwanted slugs, cats and sometimes even deer. They also add beneficial nitrogen to the soil and increase acidity. Band slug attracting plants like cabbage with a ring of coffee grounds, or add used grounds to the top of your entire garden in the same way that you would place mulch. While coffee grounds have many benefits, too much of a good thing can careen in a negative direction. To keep your plants healthy, make sure your soil is composed of no more than 35-percent coffees grounds, or simplify things by limiting yourself to about a 1-inch layer of grounds.

Eggs, Anyone? 

Image of crushed eggshells backgrounds. Crack the egg

Eggshells are another kitchen staple that benefits your garden. Instead of throwing away the shells after breakfast, toss them in your yard in larger pieces or ground up. Eggshells keep deer and elk from snacking on your tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers, and slugs and snails hate to walk on them because of their chalky, razor-like texture. As an added bonus, with time, eggshells will enrich your soil with calcium, leading to happier and healthier plants.

A Touch of Spice to Keep Critters Away

Wooden spoon of cayenne pepper in bowl with cayenne pepper on wooden table. With paste space.

Vegetable gardens often attract fire or sugar ants, but you can keep them away with a dash of cayenne pepper. Simply sprinkle a bit on top of your soil and add more after watering to keep it from washing away.  If your household pups and kitties are making a habit of using your garden as their own personal bathroom or digging in the dirt around your plants, they will find the idea of cayenne pepper on their paws repulsive, reducing their desire to spend time around your vegetables and fruits.

So Many Very Hungry Caterpillars

Cabbage white caterpillars feeding on the leaf of cavalo nero plant

Caterpillars are insatiable eating machines and a nuisance in their current form. Killing them destroys the potential of seeing beneficial butterflies in your garden, and it is not recommended. The best way to tackle an overabundant caterpillar problem is by manually removing caterpillars from vines and branches and relocating them to another area in your yard, far from your vegetable garden. Provide them with a food source when you relocate them to prevent them from migrating back toward your crops. If you must kill caterpillars in your yard, a spray consisting of 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap mixed with a quart of water often does the trick.

Add Herbs to Keep Pests Away

Wood garden box with assortment of herbs and tools

Sometimes the best way to deter pests is by carefully choosing what you plant. Many herbs have stronger scents that cause unwanted insects to shy away or attract predators that will eat more damaging pests. This is particularly helpful when battling aphids. Some of the best plants to add to your vegetable garden for this purpose include:

  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Buckwheat
  • Fennel
  • Dill

Senior couple with a basket of harvested vegetables in the garden

stamp pesticides free zone in red over white background

Finally, remember that healthy plants are less susceptible to attacks from unwanted pests. While they are not immune to all of nature, even when healthy vegetable plants are attacked, they typically experience less damage and bounce back faster from any harm. Keep your vegetable garden healthy by maintaining the soil, providing adequate water, avoiding over watering, pruning dead leaves, deadheading branches and blooms in a timely manner and even removing entire plants if they are beyond repair. Harvest your vegetables in a timely manner to keep them from falling off your plants and rotting in your garden. Spend some time on hands and knees removing weeds on a weekly basis, and encourage pest-consuming predators to take up residence in your garden.

Nature is amazing in her ability to help our vegetable gardens produce beautiful, healthy and vibrant produce. Help her along by reducing or eliminating your use of harmful toxins, and instead, turn to these natural remedies when pesky visitors get a little overwhelming. By making a few simple changes to more conventional routines, you can protect your plants, the environment and your family and spend more time enjoying your garden!

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