For “green thumbs,” this is the most anticipated time of year – spring planting time! It is a true labor of love to nurture flower gardens filled with annuals and perennials that will eventually pop with color and bring great joy later in the season Or if veggie gardens are your thing, it is a wonder to watch your seedlings develop into beautiful cukes, tomatoes, peppers, corn, or any wide array of tasty vegetables. This favorite hobby can become a challenge however, if pests begin to run ramped in your gardens and ruin the expected outcome that you waited all season long to see.
There are three primary groups that can have devastating effects in your garden: mammals (like deer and rabbits), insects (like tomato worms), and gastropods (like garden snails and slugs). In past blogs we have discussed methods to keep animals out of your garden. So now, let’s look at some suggestions about other pests from our friends at Home and Garden and the Farmer’s Almanac. If you would like professional advice, consult Pro-Tech for a plan to combat pests in your yard.
- Identify the pest and assess the type and amount of damage it may cause. Some insects are actually beneficial because they feed on other, more dangerous pests. For example Ladybugs are beneficial but some insects disguise themselves as this bug and can wreak havoc on your garden.
- Coffee grounds are a great addition to your garden. They add nitrogen to the soil, they increase the acidity for acid loving plants, and, best of all, a wide range of creatures can’t stand coffee grounds. Slugs hate coffee, cats hate coffee; it’s even sometimes an effective olfactory-based repellent for picky deer.
- Slugs are some of the most annoying of garden pests. They descend of your garden at night and chew up your plantings. Hand picking slugs and snails is an effective natural control, but it must be done early in the morning. As the sun rises, they retreat to hide under cool debris, and can be impossible to find. When hand picked, they can be dropped into a bucket of brine or salt. Copper strips can be a good deterrent as they cause a slight electrical charge as the slug slides over it.
- Tomato horn worms are large (3-4?), pale green caterpillars that strip tomato, eggplant, pepper, and potato plants of new leaves and flower buds. Hand picking is the most effective way to get immediate relief. To rid a garden of repeated infestations, you can use Bacillus Thuringiensis, a bacterium parasite.