13 February 2011

Pest Control in and Around the Garden

Many times I am asked how to rid gardens of pests of the four-legged variety. This can prove to be a very challenging task and I like to recommend that gardeners contact their local Cooperative Extension office once other methods have failed.
I have done some research and offer you the following tips for keeping pests out of your garden. It is important to remember here that it is best to combine different strategies with stubborn pests and to rotate them so that the animals in question do not get used to any one particular defense.
The first is repellent that can be sprayed. You will likely find several types at your local garden center or hardware store. Be sure to read labels carefully so you are purchasing the correct product for your needs and applying it properly. Many repellents will need to be reapplied after a soaking rain or if, during the growing season, the plants have outgrown the efficacy of the product.
You can also use sound deterrents, such as ultrasonic or sonic devices that emit sounds on a regular basis. One that varies the frequency and pitch is better than one that makes the same sounds over and over.
Visual aids work well and it is important to be sure that there is some type of movement. For example, strips of iridescent foil can be hung on fence posts, trees and the like surrounding the garden. As they blow in the wind, they will catch rays of sunshine and produce different colors and patterns on the ground. In addition, they will also produce a metallic, rattling sound that should scare away the unwanted guests. Another type of visual device that may work with smaller critters such as bunnies and chipmunks would be a plastic owl or something with owl-like properties. It is important to be sure this type of device has movement associated with it so that the “prey” does not become used to it being there so that it becomes non-threatening to them. You could also try a brightly colored holographic sphere that will appear to move when a creature looks at it from different angles. By mounting this object on a spring, it will also move in the wind.
A few other options: there are physical barriers, such as netting, that work well and you could create access doors through the netting with Velcro if need be. You could try pepper sprays to keep the offending critters from eating certain plants. Items with strong odors may work well also, such as predator urine (like coyote urine…try a hunting shop for this) and organic fertilizers such as
Milorganite ®. If using Milorganite, ® be careful not to over-apply other sources of Nitrogen as Milorganite® is already higher in Nitrogen.

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