Wildlife and Pests in the Yard and Garden
Wildlife and Pests in the Yard and Garden
Designed by Brenda Hyde
All Rights Reserved
Living in Michigan, I've always loved wildlife and I appreciate living in a state
that has so much of it. However, I'd like to watch them outside my garden, not in it!
Many of you seem to have the same problem. Traps that injure, guns and bows
are just not an option so we try all of the other methods that come along. I wanted
to share some tips on how to deter certain garden visitors using safe methods.
Remember though, depending on location and amount of wild food available to them,
some deterrants simply don't work.
VARIOUS PEST TIPS:
-Birds will sometimes pull up sweet corn as it germinates (plus I've had starlings nip off new plant growth on some flowers too). If you have this problem sprinkle lime lightly on the rows and on each side just as the corn is popping through the ground. This will keep the birds away.
A subscriber asked about treating tomato plants for mites: You can use soap sprays but they must be sprayed on ALL parts of the tomato plants--especially the underside of the leaves and then again 2-3 days later. They also are very low on the tomato near the ground-- may be attached to stem with a webbing of sorts. Watch for this and spray there too.
-a reader had read that flax would keep beetles away from potatoes and decided to try it. She planted 3 seeds in each hill, just covering them with a big of dirt. All the hills with flax had no insect damage at all! Plus the flax is a pretty blue flower that will add a cheerful look to your potato hills!
-Wormwood makes a foul smell tea that repels pests! Add a couple of handfuls of chopped wormwood to a bucket and cover it with boiling water. Stir it occasionally until it starts to ferment. At this point you can sprinkle it on the plants to repel insects on potatoes, eggplant and okra. It has a sticky residue so it "sticks" to the plants!
-The plastic lids on coffee cans or other products can be painted with honey or a commercial sticky solution, and they can be hung in greenhouses to catch aphids. If the lids are washed regularly they will last a long time and can be reused over and over.
I've always loved collecting sweet gum balls (they are small perfectly round spiky balls that come from the sweet gum tree) for crafts. The kids love them too! But you can also use them around your plants to deter the slugs. Ask around, and if you don't have them on your property, someone who does would probably be glad to have you pick them up!
-I've always crushed up my egg shells after rinsing and allowing them to dry to keep slugs away from my hostas and other plants, but here is another option. Poultry graded oyster shell is available from most feed stores very cheaply, and if you use it to cover the soil around the stem of plants, it will keep away the slugs. They hate it! It's also good for your soil...unless you have a very alkaline soil already then you may want to opt for another method.
More ant tips: another person who tried it all to get rid of fire ants finds a method that worked for them! He stirred the nests with a stick, then put about an inch of Epsom salts in and around the hill. He hasn't seen them since. Do we all wish we had a nickel for every ant tip out there? It's amazing that with all the technology we have today it's the home gardener who is coming up with things that work! Maryeileen shared this with me after reading last week's tip about using black pepper to deter rabbits: "My concern is that if there are any cats around, black pepper can be fatal, or make them very sick". So, if you have kitties please don't use this method. I wonder if having cats would deter the rabbits?
Neem Oil-mixing the Neem oil with a fish emulsion/seaweed blend. Just use the recommended amount per neem and the fish/seaweed mix, per gallon of water. You may have to reapply after three to four weeks. I found a few sources mentioning this as controversial, but nothing conclusive and it is organic. Gardens Alive has neem products:
Chickens and Guinea Fowl love to eat grasshoppers- if you are set up to have a few this is a great alternative! Also insects such as paper and parasitic wasps prey on grasshoppers. Try planting clover, coriander, dill, anise and caraway to attract these. (plus they are great herbs!). Birds, snakes, toads, and preying mantis love eating them too so anything you can do to attract this wildlife will help. Set up a bird feeding area and plant shrubs and plants that are bird friendly.
I'm afraid grasshoppers are hard pests to deter. A strong pepper and garlic spray was mentioned a few times, but it can also be damaging to some plants. On very young plants use row covers to protect. One interesting tip I read is that the eggs die when exposed to cold. So, in the fall it's important to till the soil. rake your lawns and turn over the flower beds. Horebound and Calendula are mentioned as herbal deterrents. Planting a border of both around a garden plot might help also. Gardener's Supply also carries a powder that is earth friendly.
First, empty ALL standing water in your yard every day. Let the kids help if they are there, make it a game, but don't allow any water sit. For the bush try making a garlic pepper spray. Using gloves and protection for your eyes blend 2 garlic bulbs of garlic and 2 hot peppers (hotter the better) in a blender 1/2 full of water. Strain the solids and add enough water to the garlic/pepper juice to make 1 gallon of concentrate. Use 1/4 cup of concentrate per gallon of spray or you can cut it in half as well. But the first batch is the CONCENTRATE, not the spray. It's powerful stuff. Keep it up and label it as you would any garden spray. Try spraying this on the bush and see if it helps. Clear the kids away first of course:)
Unfortunately groundhogs are a lot harder to deter than rabbits. The most mentioned deterrent for a garden area is a fence. At least 4 foot tall, and it must be dug 6-12 inches under too to prevent them from digging underneath it. It should be a mesh type wire such as chicken wire. A state source out of Ohio even suggested adding a row of electric wire to the fence row! They are aggressive like you found out with your parsley! Live traps are another option-sometimes you can rent them and receive help with removal from animal control or the state wildlife department. If you have a nature center near by call them to see if they have suggestions also. Now, in your case, you mentioned seeing them eating--what could have happened is they started feeling comfortable munching the dandelions and then eyed the parsley. Any time you see them go out and scare them away. Try anything that makes a very loud noise--pennies in a soda can--that type of thing. If you've only seen one, this may work for you, and nothing else will be necessary. Yardiac garden center has some products that may help too.
DISCUSSIONS ON GARDEN PESTS:
Currently we have some discussions going on cats and squirrels in the garden, and some great advice on non-toxic methods to get rid of some common critters like earwigs, aphids and beetles. Click Here!