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Going Green in the Garden

Planting season is finally here, and summer vegetables and herbs are on their way! Now if only we can keep the pests out of our vegetable gardens so we can enjoy the fruits of our hard labor, instead of them, all will be well. Since we plan on feeding ourselves and our family’s from that garden, it is even more important that we investigate green pest control options and at least attempt to utilize other methods of pest control besides chemicals.

Planning is an important part of minimizing the opportunity for pests to invade your garden. If you begin your vegetable garden by creating a habitat that is not inviting to pests, you have already won half of the battle. There are a number of plants and herbs that many everyday pests do not like. Marigolds, mint, lavender, garlic and thyme are some of them and can be used to deter various garden pests. “Flowers in my vegetable garden?!” you may say. “ABSOLUTA-TU-TA-TIVELY!” I respond. Just because it is a vegetable garden, is no reason that it can’t be lovely to look at. Alternate marigolds between tomato plants and save yourself more headaches later down the road, and the striking splash of colors will brighten your mood at garden tending time.

If you choose to plant mint as a garden pest deterrent, be aware that mint left to its’ own devices will run rampant in your garden. I would suggest planting mint in strategically placed decorative pots to ward off garden pests, without letting your tender vegetables fall prey to a garden bully. You can then use all that extra mint to make refreshing and cool homemade mint tea. That reason alone is enough to warrant numerous planters of mint. Garlic and herbs play nice, and are able to be placed side by side with your other plants.

Another easy tip to help with garden pests is to water early in the day, so that the garden soil and plants have time to dry out before night fall. Too much moisture on the soil surface is very inviting to slugs and is to slugs like a flashing neon sign saying, “ALL NIGHT BUFFET”. Too much moisture left on the plants at night fall also leaves open for numerous fungi to move onto your plants leaves.

In the war on garden pests, certain insects can be your ally. Lady bugs and praying mantis are two such forces. They can rid your garden of the harmful pests while adding a little action adventure. If you see them in your vegetable garden, introduce yourself and make them welcomed and if you see these two insects in other areas of your yard, relocate them to your vegetable garden and let nature do the rest.

I have also heard of separately using crushed eggs shells, cinnamon, coarse cut grits and coffee grounds sprinkled around the base of plants to further deter slugs and ants. There are also numerous recipes for soap based liquids that can be sprayed on leaves to stop the munching garden pests without harming your plants or the environment.

So with a little bit of homework and a tiny bit of planning, many of our vegetable gardens main pests can be persuaded to move down the road a house or two!

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