There aren't many things we put so much care, time, and patience into as growing a plant. So, of course, when something happens to our beloved plants, it makes us unhappy, and we want to fix and prevent it! It's already tedious enough to grow a plant from seed. We put so much TLC towards it to mature into a thriving plant that we can harvest veggies, herbs, and flowers from. We don't need the help of unwanted pests to make it tough! We've put together a list of common pests you'll likely battle with, along with how to take care of them and prevent them.
Gnats: The larvae laid in the soil are way more dangerous than the flying adults to your plants since they will start feeding on your plant's roots as soon as they are hungry! The best organic route to go for the larvae is to sprinkle your soil with diatomaceous earth. As soon as they crawl across, it will kill them. You will want to sprinkle this a couple times to be sure you get them all! A faster but non-organic method is Sevindust. You also sprinkle this on the soil. We don't recommend using this product on plants you are going to eat from. You can kill the flying adult gnats with Neem Oil. It's an oil you spray on the leaves of your plant, and once the gnats touch it, they will die. It is safe to use on all plants. Detailed directions will be on the bottle. There are also sticky fly traps that you can use if you don't want to spray anything.
The most common reason you have gnats is that your soil is way too moist! You can either purchase a digital moisture meter or use our favorite home method of poking a toothpick/wooden skewer into the soil to test if it's time to water. If it comes up wet and has soil stuck to it, you don't need to water! Make sure there isn't any standing water if you are using a tray underneath your pot.
Aphids: These small, soft-bodied pests love to suck the fluids right out of plants, causing damage to the stem, fruit, leaves, and to the plant in general! There a few ways you can get rid of and control them. You can make a water/ plain liquid soap dilution and spray the plant down with this every couple of days. You can also do the same with Neem Oil and Horticultural Oil. Just be sure to follow the directions on the container. Some people will use a water hose or strong spray bottle and blast them off with water. Please be careful if this is the route you go. Only do this with strong, mature plants! For prevention, A common but beneficial method is to purchase Aphid predators such as Ladybugs to release in your garden. Ladybugs love to munch on aphids and will help control the population.
Snails/Slugs: These sneaky Nyctophiles love to wait until you are asleep gobble up your plants! Sprinkling coffee grounds, egg shells, or diatomaceous earth around the base of your plants can prevent snails/slugs from getting to your plant as it can cut them. There are also organic pellets available to lightly scatter around the plants. You can take a biological approach and purchase Nematodes. If you have a large outdoor area, ducks have been used for snail and slug control, as they are a tasty treat for our feathered friends!
Rabbits: These maybe some of the toughest outdoor garden pests to deal with. They are pretty good at digging, hopping and are not easily deterred! The easiest way to prevent them from snacking in your garden is to put up 1" chicken wire around the areas you want to protect. You will want to get fencing that is at least 3' high, then bury at least half a foot into the ground. Planting in raised beds can also help if they are high enough off the ground.
Rabbit repellent/pellets are also an option to sprinkle around your plants, but you will need to reapply every couple of days. You can also try blood meal, predator urine, and even dog fur! Strong smelling ground-up spices, such as hot peppers, have been scattered around garden perimeters to help deter these carrot-munchers from entering.
Deer: Tactics to keep these guys out of your garden are almost identical to those for bunnies. The first option is to fence in the area you want to protect. But deer can jump very high, so this may not work if they are hungry enough! It may be best to enclose the whole area in a cage if possible. They can also be deterred by repellent/ pellets, predator urine, and blood meal. If the area doesn't smell safe to them, they likely will keep away and seek another food source.
Unlike Mr.Mcgregor, whose only futile tactics were to wave a rake and build a scarecrow to keep out Peter Rabbit, we hope this blog arms you with the proper direction to keep your plants pest-free! If you have any questions, please reach to us. We are happy to help! You can reach us on our website or by shooting an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.