How to Protect Your Garden Goodies

For the first time in my life I planted lettuce in my garden. I know, I’m gettin’ crazy. Well, I’m happy to report that it’s way easier than I thought, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised how quickly these seeds have sprouted. I’m talking just days ago I sprinkled seeds in the ground and now look at them!

lettuce crop

As I’ve been admiring my row crop, I’ve also noticed a few pesky critters starting to show up – like I’m going to be handing out forks and bibs. Um, no. I’m usually good about sharing, but I really don’t feel like giving up my tender lettuces to the wild rabbits, bugs and weeds.

What’s a gardener to do?

Well, this one called her one-and-only Mimi who knows a million things or two about gardening. She gave me a few ideas (all natural, of course) that I wanted to share. I also found a few ideas online to round out the list for us.

If you have wild rabbits, squirrels or other vermin:

Chicken wire placed carefully on top of your plants like a tent will physically keep animals away. They won’t be able to reach through the wires. The leafy greens can still grow through the holes, but at least you won’t lose an entire head of lettuce to an entire burrow of hungry bunnies.

chicken wire

Crushed red pepper…like the kind you find at pizza joints next to the sprinkle Parmesan. Spread this around the base of your plants to deter any nibbling animals. This spice is too hot for their little tongues.

Crushed-Red-Pepper01

If you have slugs or other bugs:

Beer traps. Yes, beer. Pour some into a plastic cup or Mason jar. Then tuck it down into the soil next to your plants. Slugs will be drawn to the yeasty smell and will crawl right into the container. Cheers!

beer trap

Crushed egg shells also work for slugs. Spread them around the edge of your garden and the slugs won’t cross the line, because it wouldn’t feel so good on their squishy bodies. “No shell up in here, baby.”

crushed egg shells

Liquid soap is the answer for aphids (those tiny whitish bugs you find under leaves and that make small webs). Simply put a drop of dish soap in a spray bottle with water. Wet the surface of all of your affected plants to get rid of these suckers.

liquid soap

Natural insecticide sprays can work well for pretty much any kind of bug in your garden. Here’s a recipe to try. To make homemade 2% insecticidal soap, mix together 5 tablespoons soap (like the Castile soap shown above) to 1 gallon of water. Then add one of the following items to enhance your solution:

how-make-insecticidal-soap-plants-2

    • Cooking Oil: To help the solution stick, add two tablespoons of light cooking oil per gallon of water.
    • Vinegar: This also targets powdery mildew. Add a teaspoon of cider vinegar per gallon of water.
    • Garlic or Pepper: To repel chewing insects, add a teaspoon of ground red pepper or garlic per gallon of water.

Here’s another recipe…mix 1/2 cup brown sugar to one gallon of boiling water (to dissolve sugar). Let the solution cool and pour into a sprayer to apply on your plants. So simple. I haven’t tried this one, but it had raving reviews. Doesn’t hurt to try, right?

If you have rascally weeds:

Dig by hand right after a rain, when the soil is good and loose, to pull the invaders all the way to their roots.

hand-garden-tools-300x300Natural weed killer is also good if you’d rather take the “spray and pray” approach. A simple recipe is 1 gallon of vinegar, 1 cup of table salt and 1 tablespoon of liquid soap. Mix together, pour into a bottle, and spray carefully onto your weeds. You don’t want to kill everything, including your prized petunias.

natural weed killer

That should cover most of your gardening nightmares. Let me know if I missed anything, or if you have other natural tips to try. Here’s hoping no matter what crawls, hops, or flies into your garden that you enjoy your time in the great outdoors!

-Kate

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