Have you ever just felt like nature felt or seemed a bit off balance? It’s been feeling that way around here this week. The weather has been a bit off. Very hot. And humid. Which really isn’t unusual for summer but the feeling is almost hostile with the temperature. When you go outside, it feels like you are being smacked in the face with a hot, wet towel. It’s gross.
Any ways. If you read my last post I was doing some much needed gardening and sprucing up around the yard (um, minus the mowing… still not done but, that can wait). While weeding in the garden patch, I discovered I had some unwanted pests. Rabbits, squirrels, and ants. Yeah sure, rabbits are super cute. I was watching a baby rabbit frolic about in the yard nibbling on some clover, looking at me with those big brownish eyes. It’s all fun and games until your bean plants are eaten and your 125 lb dog finds a nest. Yes, this has happened. No it actually isn’t full of fun OR games. Just horribleness and no beans.
This post I am going to share some of my favorite and all natural pest deterrents that I have used in my vegetable gardens over the years.
Cinnamon is perfect for battling those pesky and mean red ants that LOVE to use your raised garden beds for their home. Why do they love raised beds so much? The soil drains fairly quickly do to the natural settling of the soil after it rains or you water it. I also sprinkle this in my garden bed to help keep regular black ants out as well. Have problems with ants in your home? Sprinkle some around doors or windows where you notice them sneaking in.
2: Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper work as a wonderful guard against those cute rabbits and naughty squirrels. Wild animals don’t like the hot smell of the spices and will generally avoid going near where they can smell it. There are two different ways that I have used these in my garden. The first and easiest way is to just sprinkle it around the perimeter of your garden and around much desired plants, such as tomatoes, peas, or berries. Thirsty squirrels will try and attack your juicy produce when there isn’t any water available for them. The second way that you can use these spices in your garden is to make a spray. To do this, you might want to crush the flakes up as small as you can so you don’t clog the straw of the spray bottle. The problem that I have with this technique is that everything you spray will have a lovely spicy layer on that. I think regular black pepper is spicy and need to drink all the water to get the sting out. So really, it’s a personal choice for which one is better. If you have a bad furry creature problem the spray may be your best option.
3: Animal Hair
This one seems kind of gross in some ways. Harvesting extra fur from your furry friend and placing it on something that you will someday eat. I know. Gross. But it honestly keeps furry creatures out of your garden! Not for long, but if you have a giant moose dog like I do, the fur is plentiful. The reason it keeps animals out is because of the smell. I have heard that cat fur works best for some pests such as rabbits, but we work with what we have. I also think it might be strange to ask my neighbor if I could borrow some of their cat’s fur. They might think things.
Garlic is one of my favorite things to use in the garden! Not only does it deter animals but it also deters insects! Which is awesome if you are having problems with both, like we are. Now, to use this you are going to have to smell like garlic for a moment. I use organic garlic in my recipe because our soil and seeds are both organic, we try to keep it consistent. Mince a clove of garlic as finely as you can, add to a spray bottle and fill with water. I usually let it sit for about thirty-minutes to an hour, depending on how much time I have. I let it sit so I can be sure the scent has dispersed enough into the water. Then, I go out and spray where it is needed!
5: Irish Spring
Yes. I mean the soap. Yes I may be stretching the “natural” in this post but hey, thats why I didn’t say organic. Pretty sure there are zero organic ingredients in this stuff. The reason why I like to use this in the garden is because it lasts a long time, causes no issues for the plants, and it keeps those little creatures out. They really don’t like the smell and it’s a fairly discrete long-term solution when you are busy. Here I am going to show you my Garden Soap Sack. Yes, I just made that name up.
If you have it handy, cheese cloth also works. I like to use socks because we have so many lonely pairs that get lost in time, I blame the dryer like that episode of Rocko’s Modern Life, so to keep in the spirit of reusing and spending less I use them. They are also great because I don’t need to use anything to tie them around the garden fence or trellis. All you need to do is pull two pieces from opposite sides and tie them around your surface.
Not all pests are unwelcome. As almost a reward for a tough day of work, we stumbled upon the cutest and fattest little caterpillar on our dill plant. After some research, I found out that it is a Black Swallow Tail caterpillar. So yes, he will eat my dill. No, I don’t mind because in the long run, I can always grow more dill but you can’t risk the importance of a pollinator.