The Green Blog
Garden the Green Way with Organic Pest Control

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Pink Goes Green welcomes guest blogger, Mike Tuma

With spring just around the corner, we're all experiencing a little cabin fever and are counting the days until we can move outside. But while we're moving out, others are moving in - bugs! Many a garden has been completely demolished by creepy crawlers (and furry critters), and although we understand they have to eat too, we don't want them feasting on the fruits of our labor. Fortunately, we don't have to be harsh when we kick them to the curb, or use harsh chemicals. Nature has already provided us with all that we need to enjoy our pest-free gardens naturally. Here are a few tried-and-true methods to get these pests to stop bugging us - the green way.

Nature's Exterminators

When it comes to biological pest control, the undisputed garden queen is the beautiful Lady Bug. Officially not even a "bug," her correct name is "Ladybird Beetle" because she is, indeed, a beetle. Even though rose-destroying aphids are her favorite food, she will also devour mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, scales and most other soft insects. Lady Bugs have also been known to protect cabbages, broccoli and tomatoes by eating the worms that can destroy your produce. Welcome this Lady into your garden and let her create her dominion - your flowers and plants will thank you!

Grow your Garden Guardians

While we're discussing the thanks your flowers and plants will offer your way, how about a little reciprocity? There are certain plants and flowers that will do the garden guardian work for you and offer a little something extra.

Lavender
Not only does lavender smell heavenly, add a beautiful pop of purple-blue to your yard, and enhance your dishes, it keeps away pests large and small. Grab a bunch of lavender, dry it upside down, grind it into a powder and sprinkle it around your dog's domain or your cat's bed to repel fleas and ticks.

Rosemary
In addition to being a gourmet go-to herb, rosemary is a natural all-purpose repellent. Plant this herb in pots that you can easily move around your garden as needed or plant it around the perimeter of your yard to keep away insects and deer alike.

Catnip
Widely known to repel just about everything you don't want hanging out in your garden, catnip also calls out to cats far and wide. However, see this as a good thing - with a cat patrolling your plants, mice are sure to stay away! And since we're discussing furry bandits, let's look at our final green tip of the day.

Make your own Pepper Spray

As well as thwarting would-be criminals, pepper spray works wonders on repelling bugs and garden-grabbing critters (deer, squirrels, rabbits and certain types of mice) without harming them. The capsaicin contained in hot peppers is what gives them their heat and humans are the only mammals which actually enjoy eating something with this much spice.

Before undertaking this project, be sure to use protective gloves and goggles both when you make the spray and when you apply it to your garden - it is a common misconception, but you do not have to actually eat the pepper to experience the heat since capsaicin irritates on contact. Whatever you do, do not spray on a windy day or near water sources, like lakes and koi ponds.

You can make your own spray using dried or fresh peppers. Soak either 2 tablespoons of ground red pepper or one-half pound of chopped hot peppers in one gallon of water and allow it to soak overnight. Using a natural vegetable-based dish soap (like castile soap, not an anti-bacterial dish soap), add 6 drops to your soaked pepper mix and pour into a spray bottle. Spray on the undersides of plant leaves and around the perimeter of your garden and let nature take its course.

Since there are so many natural and organic options out there to keep your garden pests in check, why wouldn't you go for the green choice? What are some of the ways you protect your plants, flowers and vegetables from garden snatchers? Anything you have tried that hasn't worked as well as you had hoped?

Read more about Green Gardening in these blogs from Pink Goes Green:
Calling All Gardeners!

Sewing Seeds For Spring

Try Out Your Green Thumb This Spring

About Mike Tuma
Mike Tuma is a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago area, where he has been helping customers since 2005. Mike focuses on outdoor living writing, ranging from tips on using a wood chipper to the latest in lawn mowers.