• The Vegetarian Homestead

The never ending battle with garden pests

Slugs, snails, voles, moles, birds, beetles, aphids, caterpillars, moths, worms, and so many more! The endless list of all the pests that can overwhelm any gardener. It doesn't matter if you are a long time gardener or a new gardener, you will be tested by at least one of these pests during your gardening season.

When I plant my garden I accept certain amount of damage done by pests. I even plant extra just so I can "share" with these uninvited guests. But there are times when they become an absolute nuisance.

We don't spray non-organic pesticides on our garden. The only organic sprays we use occasionally are made with neem oil, soap, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and peppermint oil. Truth be told, these don't help much so most of the time we hand pick as many bugs as we can, use barrier method or just don't plant the variety that attracts bugs.

This year we are already finding that the birds are being a big pain. We direct seeded some soybeans and the birds started plucking the emerging seedlings out. They didn't eat them, just pulled them out. We managed this issue by placing a netting/row cover over the bed. Another way to manage this issue is by interplanting the beans with another crop. This tends to confuse the birds. I have a row of cabbages that are growing nicely so I directly seeded some bush bean seeds at the edge and the birds have left them alone.

Birds also pull out corn seedlings as they emerge. We grow a lot of corn so covering the whole plot is not possible. So with the corn, I start the seeds indoors in trays and transplant them. Once the seedlings are over 1 inch tall the birds don't seem to mess with them.

There is one pest that I absolutely find disgusting. Slugs. Ugh, they are so gross and I shiver anytime I see them on any of my plants. Sluggo is a name brand slug bait that we have used with great success. The only problem is that its not effective when wet so it needs to be applied frequently. I also "try" to give my plants plenty of space so toads and other good bugs can get in and eat the slugs.

We hand pick japanese beetles, bean beetles and tomato hornworms. This needs to be done every day so the pest pressure is kept under control. Its a lot of work but we enjoy the fresh produce we are able to grow and enjoy.

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