Pests

by M. Arjoca, vegetalshapes.com

Pests effects on plantsYou found a place where your garden can be, you plan everything, saw and plant everything your heart desired and you wait full of joy. This happiness last until the moment you realize that not only you enjoy the plants in the garden. The lettuce is a fine dish for snails, until your zucchini grows the aphids eat its leaves, the birds love strawberries, the cabbage is also good for rabbits, you will not taste the tomatoes because fungi attacked the plants and so on.

In the moment you see the disaster first you are shocked, then raged and after this you know you must take measures. So, pest control becomes important.

First you have to find out who are the pests.

The insects, snails, slugs, fungi, birds, rabbits, mice, deers and the cats can create serious problems.

Aphids on gazania The insects - some insects are pest not only because they eat the plants but because they weaken their resistance and create the favorable ground for fungi and diseases. There are also beneficial insects, but the bad ones can cause serious damages. They can feed themselves with the leaves, buds, shoots, flowers, fruits or with the roots of plants, causing them the weakening, the proliferation of fungi, diseases and even their death.

There are ecological and non-ecological methods which can be applied against them. A lot of commercial non-ecological insecticides can be used. They kill rapidly the insects and their eggs and may have immediately effects, but they have also negative aspects.

Non-ecological insecticides can kill not only the bad insects but the good ones too. They stimulates the appearance of more resistant pest insects and the necessity of more and stronger insecticide. Applied in big doses or to often can cause the damage or the death of plants. Of course we must not forget that they can have very dangerous effects on humans and animals.

If you don’t want to pollute the environment and you don’t want to poison the plants and those who eat your vegetables you can use ecological methods to control pest insects. Using these methods you don’t pollute and you eat healthy vegetables.

Methods:

Zucchini infested with fungiThe fungi – can be a real problem especially in wet areas. Different types of fungi attack the plants, some plants having a sensitivity to some kind of fungi. There are a lot of commercial fungicides, but if you are a gardener with ecological views you can apply other methods:

Slug on a dill plantThe snails and slugs – in some parts of the world (rainy), the snail and the slugs can be a real problem. They are not so picky about food so they can destroy almost any plant, leaves, shoots, buds, flowers, fruits. If you like to watch their horns, after you see your eggplants and beautiful flowers chopped, you will not like them anymore. During the day the snail and slugs stay hidden under stones, flower pots, and other objects because they don’t like the warmth and they get out in the evenings and dawns to eat. What can you do?

Methods:

Birds net over grape vinesThe birds – it is beautiful to watch them in the bird bath you set it for them and you like when they reduce the number of pest insects, but not when they eat your fruits and break the new shoots. There are some methods to scare them away.

The mice – they don’t like the smell of mint or eucalyptus. If you don’t want to catch them with traps you can try to sprinkle mint or eucalyptus oil in the areas where they come. For example, soak some rags in oil and put them where are needed. Or rub the edges of the raised beds and the pots with these rags. If the mice visit the compost you can plant or put some pots with mint around it.

Wire net around Ginkgo treeThe rabbits – they eat especially new shoots or new plants, but don't refuse the mature ones when they are very hungry. The tree bark is also in danger. For protection put wire net around the trunk of trees or around the garden. The lowest side of the net must be buried because the rabbits have the habit to dig, and the upper side must be around 60 cm (2 ft) height because they hop. You can use also electric fence.

Grow some repelling plants: garlic, chives, lavender, nepeta, foxgloves. Some people put at the base of trees feces from cats that ate wild animals or sprinkle on cotton rags fox urine and then hang them on fences.

The deers – like the rabbits they eat vegetables and trees bark. You can use against them wire fence, 3m (9 ft) height, because they jump. The deers don’t eat some plants which can be grown as companion plants for the ones in danger: foxgloves, chives, lupine, zinnia, cyclamen, impatiens, yarrow, aster, freesia, iris, ferns, poppies, forget-me-not, daffodils, rosemary, sage, bellflowers etc.

Cat behind fenceThe cats – are fluffy and loving when you touch them, but they cut your enthusiasm when they dig in your garden and make litter in the new bed, when they scatter the seeds and break the new plants. The cats love fresh sandy soil because they can dig it easy. They are very curious and be sure they'll come to see the new beds and to mark them as their new territory. If you don’t succeed to teach them to use another place for littering (some tray), you must apply not so gentle methods. Scare them when they come in your garden, keep a water sprinkler at hand and use it every time.

You can also sprinkle garlic spray (very unpleasant smell for them), on the edges of raised beds, fence or just around the garden. Sprinkle every little corner because the cats explore all area and they use every missed place to get in. They don’t like the smell of citrus fruits so put some orange or grapefruit shells on the new bed.

They dislike also the smell of lavender and Coleus canina. You can use bark or stones as mulch because the cats don’t like to walk or to dig sharp surfaces.

Another solution is an ultrasound device or a sensitive sprinkler which starts only when the animal comes in the garden.