Friday, May 27, 2016

Preventing Deer, Rabbits and Other Four Legged Pest From Eating Your Garden. ORGANICLY!

 Part 4 in our series on chemical free pest control



If you live in the city, practice urban or container gardening this post might or might not be of interest to you, but if you live in most suburbs or out in the country you know that it doesn’t take long for pest, of the four legged kind, to completely destroy a garden plot or even turn a profitable crop into a total loss.

Four Legged Garden Pest Eat How Much?

An average member of the deer family will eat from 5 to 15 pounds of greens a day, depending on the species. This may seem like a lot of food, but when you take body size into account they are nothing compared to rabbits.

A mature cottontail, the most common wild rabbit in the U.S., will eat 1.25 pounds a day and his cousin, the black-tailed jackrabbit, eats almost nonstop and can consume over 6 pounds of forage every 24 hours. When you consider that an average rabbit colony will contain around 15-20 rabbits you can see that letting rabbits have free access to your garden is about the same as letting a full grown cow graze your greens.

So, how do you keep the grazing deer and the ravaging rabbit from consuming your delectable garden treats before you have a chance to? It is easier than you think. Just follow these handy tips to keep your garden safe, chemical free and totally organic.

Natural Deer Repellents

Deer, for all the damage they can cause, are actually one of the easier animals to deter from your garden and being creatures of habit, they will normally stay with their new food source and stay away once deterred.

Here are a few things that will help if you have a deer problem.

·         In a pump sprayer mix one whole egg, a quarter cup of water and an ounce of hot sauce and spray it on your plants. This mix will withstand light rains because the egg sticks to the leaves.

·         For larger volume applications, mix the following ingredients:
o   1 Cup Milk
o   2 Gallons Water (8 Liters)
o   2 T Cooking Oil
o   2 T Liquid Detergent
o   2 Whole Eggs
o   Spray it on your plants.

·         Even the most persistent deer will become discouraged and look elsewhere after a time. Once they're in the habit of feeding elsewhere, you can let up on the spraying regimen.

·         Place human hair in small cheesecloth sacks and hang around your garden. The scent of the human hair is repellent to deer of all types.

Rabbit And Rodent Proofing Your Garden

Photo: Koenigsegg


Rabbits and Rodents are allergic to peppermint and will avoid it like the plague. To pest proof your garden, plant borders of peppermint as a barrier or soak rags in peppermint oil and hang around your garden to keep it pest free.
Since I love mint tea the first option obviously gets my vote.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Creating a 'Mini' Insectary in Your Gardenm (3rd article in our organic best control series)

The idea of intentionally inviting insects into your garden may sound a little crazy to some. That is because, most of us have been raised in a chemical-laden world, where new and improved (sic), man-made has been praised and the natural demonized as inefficient and wasteful. The funny part of this is that the exact opposite is true. Man has never developed a system that worked with the elegance that we find in nature.

Chemical pesticides not only poison and kill insects indiscriminately, they wash into our rivers and streams causing environmental damage and leech into our groundwater supply where they have been found  to contribute to Malignant lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma and many other forms of cancer.

By learning to work with nature using methods like building Insectaries in our gardens we not only protect our plants in the most natural way possible, we protect ourselves and the planet that we will leave behind to our kids and grandkids.

What is an Insectary

For our purposes, an insectary is a small area of your garden, set aside and planted with plant species that will draw and hold beneficial insects. 

The idea is to invite these predator species into our gardens and then let them do what nature intended them to do, eat the pests that eat our plants.

How to get started

The best method that I have found is to alternate small islands of insectary plants with your normal crops.

If you garden in traditional rows, set aside a portion of every second or third row for a few feet of predator drawing plants or plant them in islands throughout your garden.

If you have beds of plants like a herb garden or traditional flower beds found around most homes, reserve a 4 sq ft area, every 15 to 20 feet around your beds or in the center of larger beds.

What Insectary Plants to Choose?

Every geographical area and type of crop has its own set of damaging garden pests to worry about so it is very difficult to give a blanket answer to this question.

What we can do is supply you with the information you will need to make your own choices.

Garden Pest
Prey Insects
Aphidius, Aphidoletes, Hoverflies, Lacewings,
Ladybugs, Pirate Bugs
Ground Beetles
Fungus Gnats
Beneficial Mites
Ground Beetles
Insects Pest Eggs
Damsel Bugs (Nabidae)
Lacewings, Ladybugs, Pirate Bugs
Moth, Beetle And Fly Larvae
Wasps (parasitic)
Pirate Bugs, Lacewings
Ground Beetles
Soft bodied Insects
Beneficial Mites, Dicyphus
Beneficial Mites, Dicyphus, Pirate Bugs
Dicyphus, Pirate Bugs, Wasps (parasitic)

Beneficial Insect
Achillea Filipendulina, Lupin, Sunflowers
Beneficial Mites
Helianthus Annulus, Shasta Daisy
Damsel Bugs (Nabidae)
Ground Beetles
Convolvulus Minor, Queen Anne's Lace,
Iberis Umbellata, Statice, Lupin, Parsley,
Pincushion Flower, Yarrow
Alyssum, Dill, Angelica Gigas, Coreopsis,
Cosmos Bipinnatus, Queen Anne's Lace,
Fennel, Tansy
Achillea Filipendulina, Dill, Convolvulus Minor,
Queen Anne's Lace, Fennel, Tansy, Yarrow
Pirate Bugs
Helianthus Annulus, Shasta Daisy, Sunflower
Tachinid flies
Alyssum, Lemon Balm, Parsley,
Wasps (parasitic)
Coreopsis,  Cosmos Bipinnatus, Dill, Statice,
Lemon balm, Parsley, Pincushion Flower,
Sunflower, Yarrow

Insectary Secrets

Different insects are obviously attracted to different types of plants and have different environmental requirements. Ground Beetles need to have ample ground cover and low growing plants to thrive and Lacewings like to have high, shady, protected areas to lay their eggs. Because of this, it is best to plant a variety of plants in your Insectary Plots.

Mix and match ground covers like clover and vetch with low-growing herbs like thyme, dill and various mints and then add taller composite flowers such as daisies and chamomile. The more variety you have, the better.


The other secret to growing an insectary and using predatory insects to keep your garden pest free is to remember that you are working with a natural process. Even if you order bugs or eggs online you are not going to see a dramatic change overnight.

Nature takes time to work. The best you can do to hurry it along is to seed and provide a proper environment for your little pest control agents to live in and then wait.

On the good side, once you have your Garden Insectary in place, all you have to do is maintain it year to year and your plants will stay protected without any further expense or work. As long as you provide them a good home, your little worker bugs will keep your garden pest free and even help enrich your soil with their waste.