Pest Control for Your Home Garden

Garden pests are a buzzkill, but at some point, every home gardener will have to deal with them. How troublesome they become depends on both your plan of attack and the rapidity of your response.

Pest control is a controversial topic, especially given how much we’ve learned in recent years about harmful chemicals and how they affect our health and the health of our environment. Chemical pesticides are problematic because they pose health risks to humans, pets and welcome garden critters such as worms. Over time, plants can also develop a resistance to these types of pesticides, which means a lot of negative effects with no real positive results. Moral of the story? Steer clear. Chemicals should never, ever be your first line of defense.

There are better solutions out there for your garden. If things get ugly – despite your best efforts – call a garden professional, who can advise you on next steps.

Keep it Clean.

Your best bet for a pest-free garden is a clean garden. Fertilization and regular weeding is like cleaning house for your plants and a great way to keep invaders at bay. As you weed, remove dead leaves, where bugs are likely to live, and be sure to pick up any stray vegetables that may have fallen into the dirt. Keep an eye on your soil’s moisture level too: Bugs love a swampy climate, so consider covering your plants if there’s an unusually heavy rainfall in your future with no sun to dry it out.

Check Early, and Often.

Pests know you don’t want them around, so they’ll pick the sneakiest spots to hide. In your garden, that means they’ll camp out on the underside of leaves, especially those near the soil. As your plants begin to flourish, turn their leaves over to see if anyone is hiding out there. Doing this often will also keep bugs from laying eggs in your garden, which can increase your problem exponentially.

Head into Battle.

If you have pests in your garden that just won’t leave, it’s time for organic pesticide solutions. First, try to determine what you see so your eradication plan can be as targeted and effective as possible. Once you know your enemy, plan your attack: Many home remedies exist that are made with pantry items such as cayenne pepper (one of my favorite ways to keep unwanted guests away), salt, garlic and essential oils. Enlist the help of the internet or a local garden professional to find out what you need for your specific problem.

Our furry and feathered friends can wreak havoc on our home gardens as well. If they’ve made your garden the hottest new restaurant in town, work with a garden professional to find screening solutions and other barriers that will let pollinators in and keep potential diners out.

Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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