Eliminate Pests From The Garden

There are a lot of things that can be called pests of the garden, from ants to escaped zebras (just kidding about the zebras). While waiting for the season to change, it is the time to plan for these pests and their annihilation or prevention.

We will start with ants, which are a problem in our loose soil — the perfect medium for their nests. We also have a problem in one of our high tunnels with black carpenter ants. Our solution is mixing one part sugar and one part 20 Mule Team Borax. We put this mixture in lids from cottage cheese containers and place them around the problem areas. You can make a cover to keep out the moisture using the main part of the container. Cut access slots in the container and place it upside-down over the lid. The ants harvest the mixture and take it back to their nests where it poisons the larvae.

Aphids are usually caused by too-wet conditions and lack of air circulation. Ants also “farm” them for food, moving the aphids around on your plants so the aphids continue to eat and produce a sticky substance that the ants then eat. Our remedy for this is a mixture of cayenne pepper and garlic. Crush a couple cloves of garlic and dried cayanne into water and then strain the liquid (old pantyhose works fine). Pour this into a spary bottle and spray your plants. Some people plant garlic around the base of their roses, which repels the ants to keep them from farming in your rose bushes.

Beetles of all kinds, such as cucumber or squash, can be eliminated by using diatomeceous earth. It is good to cover young plants with row covers so the plants can get a good start before being attacked by beetles. If you have an infestation, you can use a pyrethrium spray such as Pyganic, which is an organic spray. It is a broad-spectrum killer, so you want to spray early morning or late evening to avoid killing pollinators.

Vermin such as mice, shrews, moles and groundhogs can be prevented by planting alliums around and in your beds. The animals don’t seem to like going through them. Our cats and dogs have free range to get these creatures. In the high tunnels, we use mouse traps with peanut butter spread on the paddles and thread tied around the paddle. The thread catches the rodents’ teeth and sets off the trap.

For our problem with deer, we let our dogs roam at night to chase them off. The alliums on the outside of beds keep them out also. We save urine and pour it around the outside of fields once a week to repel them.

Hope these things will help you keep your food supply for yourselves or the intended consumers. Happy gardening.

Mick Luber is an organic farmer at Bluebird Farm in Cadiz. He has more than 30 years of organic farming experience and is a regular at the Wheeling farmers’ markets.