Growing a flourishing vegetable garden takes dedication, patience and TLC; however, pests can quickly ruin even the best of efforts.
Prevention is much easier and safer than dealing with infestations of garden bugs after they arise. Avoid using any form of pesticide spray (organic or homemade), which could kill beneficial insects while depleting soil microbes.
Even when planting carefully, bugs are an inevitable part of vegetable gardening. Luckily, there are several simple steps you can take to protect your garden without resorting to chemical solutions – these six natural tips provide a strong defense while still permitting for healthy plants and veggies!
1. Make a Pepper Spray
The capsaicin present in hot peppers is known to be just as irritating to insects as it is to us – think back to when you cut into a red bell pepper and got all that hot pepper juice on your fingers! With a mixture of hot peppers and water, a homemade mixture can repel many types of pests such as potato bugs, ants, grasshoppers, fleas and mites according to Farmer’s Almanac. To create such a spray blend 2 chopped hot peppers along with one quart of water until smooth then strain into spray bottles ready to apply wherever needed (Farmer’s Almanac). (Farmer’s Almanac)
2. Set Up Sticky Traps
Like so much of gardening, traps are more than merely nuisance. By regularly monitoring and checking on them, sticky traps can actually work to quickly address problems before they escalate further. They’re great at catching aphids, beetles and flies which damage vegetables – just visit your hardware store for everything needed to set them up!
3. Employ Companion Plants
Companion planting is an ancient art that involves growing certain plants together in order to promote their health and repel pests. For instance, if you’re having issues with aphids in your garden, planting dill or fennel next to vegetables will attract beneficial insects that will eat away at them (Garden Guides).
4. Keep Beer Near by A little beer can go a long way when it comes to protecting your garden against snails and slugs that threaten its plants, according to Home and Gardens. The alcohol in beer lures them in before killing them off for good, according to H&G.
Producing vegetables from your garden is an immensely satisfying experience, yet successful gardens require lots of TLC. Even with proper planning and monitoring in place, pests will still inevitably arrive; luckily there are natural methods available that can keep them away and keep your produce free from damage.
One effective way to keep pests away from your vegetables is planting aromatic herbs in your garden. Sage, thyme, mint and lavender all make delightful aromas but are repulsive to harmful insects; planting these near or among vegetable plants will naturally deter bugs while simultaneously encouraging pollinators populations that benefit your garden.
Garlic can also be an effective method for keeping bugs away from vegetable gardens, both through its foul odor and compounds found within garlic that interfere with their sensory receptors. Though garlic won’t kill bugs that slip past, its compounds could certainly make life harder for any that do get through.
This method works best on small insects like aphids, beetles and squash bugs. Additionally, it’s effective against moles, voles and gophers who dig up your vegetable roots by digging up roots. Simply mix 235ml of water with 1 teaspoon of garlic spray and apply to areas where damage or bugs have appeared – be sure to target places where they could be hiding out! Spray both top and bottom leaves of vegetables where possible for best results.
An alternative natural way of deterring pests from your garden is vinegar, which also serves as an effective weed killer. Mix one part white or apple cider vinegar with three parts water in a spray bottle with an addition of one teaspoon of dish soap before spraying over infested plants several times weekly or so. Be careful only to spray areas where insects have emerged so as to not deter beneficial ones as well. Once applied, rinse your plants well with water after each application so that any vinegar doesn’t wash off and invite more pests!
North Texas can be challenging when it comes to cultivating vegetables successfully, particularly during our scorching summers and temperatures that reach 100+deg. But even with an impressive garden, bugs can quickly devastate any attempt at successful cultivation. Instead of resorting to chemical insecticide sprays for protection, use these natural methods instead to keep bugs at bay in your veggie patch so you can enjoy fresh homegrown produce all year long!
Vinegar is one of the most versatile products on the market, finding use both inside and outside the home. From breaking down hard minerals in soil to cleansing windows and doors with oily residue, vinegar offers many uses both inside and out of the house.
Vinegar can also make for an effective natural bug repellent when combined with other ingredients, making a homemade spray made up of equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water to spray around plants to help deter insects and critters from coming near them. Or combine equal parts of vinegar and water together in a jar, adding peppermint essential oil drops for an added boost – this method has proven particularly successful against cabbage loopers caterpillars who love munching down on leaves like kale, brussel sprouts or leafy greens!
An addition of vinegar can also aid soil health by adding one tablespoon per gallon of water, and mixing in a watering can. When applied directly to vegetable gardens, vinegar has been known to significantly decrease pest populations such as aphids and thrips.
Plant flowers to attract beneficial insects. Dill, fennel and parsley flowers all attract ladybugs – powerful soldiers in the fight against aphids – which have been proven to consume up to 75 aphids daily! By feeding on these bugs they protect your veggies against pests while providing added defenses from damage to them.
Other beneficial insects that you should encourage include lacewings, minute pirate bugs, wasps and parasitic wasps. To attract these beneficial critters to your area, plant flowers like dill, parsley and basil that attract these helpful bugs.
Staying away from bugs in the garden is key to enjoying fresh homegrown produce without resorting to chemical pesticides, which may be seen with suspicion by those looking for more natural approaches and growing their own food. Diatomaceous earth (DE) offers an organic option which can be applied directly onto soil and foliage of vegetable plants; DE works by absorbing waxy outer layer lipids that cause insects’ exoskeletons to dehydrate, leading them to dehydrate and die, making DE effective against mites, ants, caterpillars and beetles while also being an organic deterrent against snails and slugs.
DE can either be purchased as a powder or combined with water to form a wet DE spray, with mixing expediting coverage over larger areas faster. Apply when soil and leaves are dry; its effectiveness decreases with moisture exposure and should be reapplied after rain or irrigation has taken place.
When applying DE, it is imperative that a mask and protective eyewear be worn when applying as dust or spray, since its particles can cause respiratory irritation. Furthermore, food grade DE is far safer for use than that found in swimming pools due to potentially toxic levels of crystalline silica that could compromise your health.
Rats, moles, mice and rabbits can do extensive damage to vegetable gardens; if you’re uncomfortable trapping or eliminating them yourself, use a wet DE spray containing lemon or peppermint oil to discourage their visits and repel rodents for weeks at a time. Slugs prefer humid environments and are difficult to eradicate using conventional means; thus making slugs one of the primary issues faced by many gardeners today. By employing multiple methods simultaneously you can keep pests out while cultivating an abundant harvest!