Your garden looks amazing, West Coast Gardeners, and we know you’ve put a lot of work into it. Those vegetable crops are sprouting up strong and your strawberry plants have started to produce sun-ripened fruit. Ah, the rewards of edible gardening!
But somewhere deep in the paradise of your yard lurks a dark threat, ready to pounce and destroy your beautiful work, threatening the very crops you’ve spent hours cultivating. Your arch-nemesis! Every gardener has one (some even have an entire league of villains) keeping them ever vigilant in the fight to protect their edible garden.
Who is your gardening adversary? Read on and find out how to win the battle.
Keeping it A Clean Fight
It’s hard enough to grow edibles in your garden, with unpredictable weather, watering schedules and simply making space in the yard. You don’t need unwelcome visitors coming along and snagging all your hard won harvest (no, we’re not talking about your husband’s mid-lawn mowing snack break in the veggie garden).
Your arch-nemesis in the garden may be as small as an aphid or something a little larger like a deer. But whatever the villain, you don’t want to turn to pesticides, especially on edible crops. How do you limit the collateral damage to your garden while not losing the whole summer’s work?
Lucky, gardeners are a creative bunch, and we’ve gathered solutions for many of the pests and creatures you’re fighting in your yard to help you be victorious!
Fighting the Biggest Super-Villains of Your Yard
When it comes to the larger foes, the fight becomes trickier because deer, rabbits and other small mammals can be quite clever in evading basic techniques. But everyone has their kryptonite and we’ve got some ideas for you to try.
Is that the sweet smell of victory or Irish Spring Soap? An easy tip to keep deer out of your garden is to create super strong scents as a barrier to their favorite snacking areas. Deer have an aversion to strong smells, particularly perfume or soaps. No, you don’t have to waste all your Chanel no.9, some cheap soap with a lot of scent will do just fine. Attach it to stakes around the yard as a deterrent.
For the smaller and deceptively cuddly garden enemies, such as rabbits, you can use bloodmeal flakes (found at hardware stores) to keep them away. The scent of this meat production byproduct spooks smaller mammals. As a bonus, the high nitrogen levels in bloodmeal will give your garden a boost! Just sprinkle it on top of the soil around your garden beds.
You can also keep small animals (not to mention the Wicked Witch of the West) out of your garden using motion powered sprinklers. As soon as a deer or larger animal (including the neighbourhood kids trying to raid your peas again) makes a move towards your edible garden the sprinkler shoots out a spray of cold water. Although the deer won’t melt, they will stay away.
When Your Nemesis is Small and Mighty
Insects and other pests may be small, but they tend to make up for it with numbers and stealth! Slugs attack in the dead of night and aphids can cover your vegetables without warning. How do we fight a foe that just seems to keep coming back for more?
Companion planting is a fantastic way to protect and enhance your crops. Basically it means to group certain plants together in your garden that benefit each other. For example, basil will help your tomatoes taste better and also keep the aphids away. It’s like a sidekick to help you in your gardening battles! We’ve compiled our favourite companion planting combinations in this handy blog post.
Another way to fight off these tiny invaders and pests is to invite some help into your garden. (After all, the Justice League and the Avengers aren’t just made up of one person, right?) We’re talking about getting help from beneficial bugs, and although Ant Man is a bit too busy to help out right now, we’ve got some other ideas of who to call.
Ladybugs are wonderful edible gardening friends, and will chow down on your aphids like it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. Unlike Batman, they don’t have a signal you can shine into the sky, but they are attracted by flowers from the daisy family such as tansy or yarrow. You can also order them online and have a container full of ladybugs delivered right to your door. Set them loose in your garden and watch them unleash their amazing superpowers on those pesky aphids.
Ground beetles are another friend you want roaming your garden and taking care of any ground dwelling pests they stumble upon. You can attract them with low growing plants such as thyme, rosemary or mint. Including flowering plants amid your vegetable and other crops will increase the chances of beneficial insects (often pollinators) finding and dispensing of your garden’s enemies.
Slimy & Sneaky Enemies of the Garden
Gastropods, the west coast gardener’s arch-nemesis. Slugs and snails plague our gardens due to our high rain levels, and they are not easy to get rid of. In our blog post Embracing the West Coast Garden we’ve covered some ideas for keeping these dark creatures out of our gardens including coffee grounds, lava rocks and grapefruit.
Another option is to use copper, as slugs and snails hate this metal and will go to all lengths to avoid it. A decorative copper band around your pots can keep slugs from heading up into your herbs. Strategically placing copper dish scrubbers (or uncoiling them and using them as a border around your crops) in your garden can make gastropods think twice before their midnight raids.
Stopping your garden’s enemies before they strike will save you a battle in the future. To deter these pests from your garden (and make your neighbour’s yard look much more inviting) try these tips:
Create healthy and organic soil in your garden beds using natural fertilizers and mulching. Sea Soil and other products can help create a strong base for you garden that will prevent weak spots and vulnerabilities that enemies can prey on.
- Find their secret hideouts. Get rid of hiding places for these garden pests by clearing all your debris and weeds as soon as you can, rather than leaving piles at the edge of your garden. Old wood, pots and other odds and ends can actually create perfect villain lairs to infiltrate your garden.
- Mix it up. Don’t make it too easy for them. Sure a nice straight row of lettuce is easier to water or weed, but it also makes a fantastic buffet line for the slugs and bugs. Use companion plants and create a mixed garden to avoid losing your entire crops and help deter pests.