Tired of sharing your fresh produce with animal pests? The good news is you don’t have to pollute and poison your garden to drive out deer and other destructive critters. There are plenty of natural preparations to try instead.
Natural products typically pose less of a threat to the environment than their synthetic counterparts. As such, it’s always best to use pesticide waxes, soaps and sprays sparingly and according to label directions.
Dealing with Deer
You don’t find many deer in hair salons or Laundromats. Maybe it’s because they dislike our scent so much. Gardeners can use this to their advantage by hanging up sweaty socks or spreading around hair clippings. Because deer are also repelled by strong smelling deodorant soap, you can hang several bars roughly 3 ft off the ground all around the garden.
If you want to keep deer away from specific plants, mix up a solution of a few egg yolks to 1 gal of water and spray directly on plants to be protected. A number of commercial preparations such as Deer Stopper, derived from rosemary oil, mint oil, cinnamon oil and putrescent whole egg solids, are also available. It is highly effective in preventing deer, elk and moose damage on all shrubs.
Rabbits, Squirrels and More
You can make especially tasty plants more difficult for rabbits and other small animals to access by surrounding them with thorny rose clippings or brambles. Animal Stopper is a highly effective formula for preventing armadillo, gopher, groundhog, rabbit, raccoon and skunk damage to all shrubs, flowers, edible crops and turf areas. With rosemary oil, mint oil, cinnamon oil and putrescent whole egg solids as active ingredients, this product works by smell, taste and feel. It lasts for approximately 30 days, regardless of weather and covers an area of 1,000 sq ft.
Got moles? Because they love to feed on grubs and Japanese beetle larvae, you can send them packing by targeting their food supply in a couple of ways. Release live, beneficial nematodes to control over 250 different insects in the soil now. In the Fall, apply Milky Spore-a naturally occurring bacterium which is lethal to Japanese beetle larvae. Japanese beetle grubs exposed to Milky Spore die within 7 to 21 days, and as the grubs decompose, they releases billions of new spores which remain active in soil for up to 20 years.
Nan says: “After my vegetable garden failed to produce much last year, I knew I needed to step up my game. Early this spring I applied Sunleaves All-Purpose Bat Guano to all my beds. I can already see a huge difference in crop quality, and my kale is already a foot tall! This guano is easy to use, effective and it’s all purpose NPK ratio allowed me to fertilize the wide variety of plants that I wanted in my garden plot!“
Mike says: “Earth Juice Catalyst is a must have component from the Earth Juice line. It works great to fuel growth and is OMRI listed for organic production. The product offers an array of natural occurring enzymes, hormones, vitamins, amino acids and many other benefits, that will aid in stimulating plant growth and production. It can be applied by watering as an additive or as a foliar feed. This product improves growing mediums, encourages compact growth and increases yields, while improving on other teas and fertilizers.“
Clint says: “Root Riot Cubes are a perfect way to start seeds for indoor or outdoor gardens. They provide a perfect environment for your seeds to sprout with just the right amount of nutrient and beneficial microbes to get the plant started strong. Root Riot cubes are also the perfect medium for rooting clones. Transplanting your delicate plant to its final home has never been easier than with this style of cubes. For the greatest success when using Root Riot cubes check on them daily! These are best used in conjunction with the following items for the perfect environment: Super Starter Humidity Dome, Standard Flat Black w/ Holes and Standard Flat Insert, 72 Site.“
Mid-summer dry spells and high temperatures can make some gardens look more like the Mojave Desert. Fortunately, there are ways to drought-proof your gardens and landscaping before the next heat wave hits!
Choose plants that naturally tolerate dry conditions:
Echinocactus grusonii “Mexican Cactus”, Lewisia cotyledon “Sunset Strain”, Serrated Tussock Grass, Nassella trichotoma, Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’, Lavandula multifida “Spanish Eyes”, Libertia peregrinans “New Zealand Iris”, Sedum rupestre “Spruce-leaved Stonecrop”, Sedum spurium “Two-row Stonecrop”, Salvia clevelandii Roof House Leek, Sempervivum marmoreum, Agastache rugosa “Korean Mint”, Helictotrichon sempervirens “Blue Oat Grass”
- Make sure the garden gets at least an inch of water in a single watering every week.
- The makeup of your soil and the availability of rain will determine watering frequency.
- Sandier soils require more watering sessions than do heavier, clay-laden patches.
- Aren’t sure how much water your garden regularly receives?
- Use a rain guage or simply set out a few straight-sided containers to collect warer from rains or regular watering cycles.
- Dig about 6 inches down into your garden soil to examine the extent of moisture penetration
- Deep soaking rain is best, but if there isn’t any rain in site, use a soaker hose (a hose featuring a series of regularly spaced, small holes) to gently direct water to specific plant sites over a prolonged period.
- If plants only get a series of short, surface waterings, their root systems are more likely to form near the ground’s surface, making plants more susceptible to drought damage and stress.
- Manufacturers such as Raindrip offer separate water emitters, tubing, and other components so that gardeners can customize their own drip irrigation systems.
- Allow users to adjust the rate of saturation in gallons per hour
- Direct water to specific plant root zones
- Plants consistently get plenty of water and weeds don’t
- Users don’t have to contend with water run-off or soil erosion
Protecting New Plants
- Watering needs change with a plant’s life stage.
- Young seedlings require more frequent watering until they become established
- Offer temporary shade during the hottest part of the day
Mulch and More
- Applying 2 to 4 inches of compost or bark mulch:
- Keeps the soil temperature cooler
- Smothers emerging weeds
- Conserves moisture
- Soil amendments
- Retain moisture
- Optimizes your garden’s use of water
- Effectively reduces plant stress
- Can also be used in container gardens and with new seedlings or transplants
Feed the Soil
Roger says: “Have Japanese beetles or moles you’d like to get rid of? Try Milky Spore! It’s a safe alternative compared to synthetic pesticides/mole repellents. It’s actually a naturally occurring bacterium that is safe to use around pets and children. The bacterium colonizes underground and kills grubs which are the larval stage of Japanese beetles. Grubs are one of a mole’s primary food sources. Due to the lack of food, most moles will move to more favorable feeding grounds. Just one application of Milky Spore lasts 8 to 10 years. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed!“
Jane says: “FloraKleen is a great product for dissolving accumulated salts from the root zone leading to better nutrient uptake. This product can be used in both soil and hydroponic applications. Use FloraKleen as a final flush the last week before harvest to remove excess salt build up for better flavor in your fruits and vegetables.“
Tyler says: “CALiMAGic is a calcium and magnesium supplement that is essential for fast growing annual plants. This supplement can be used with any fertilizer program at a rate of 1 tsp per gallon of water. Having the right amount of calcium during the plants life cycle is extremely important for enhancing growth and development, limiting bud aborting and preventing blossom end rot. This product is a very clean calcium additive that will not clog spray lines or drip lines. Put some more calcium into your plants and watch the magic happen.”