How To Battle Garden Pests Cheaply and Naturally

Battle Garden Pests Cheaply and Naturally

Garden pests can be the bane of a home gardener’s existence. You work so hard to get your plants to grow, then these bugs come along and destroy them. Are you looking for ways to battle garden pests cheaply and naturally? It’s definitely possible!

It Doesn’t Have To Be a Battle

Yes, we often talk about battling pests. However, it’s better if you start with a few mindset. Instead of thinking about how you’re going to battle garden pests cheaply and naturally, try to reframe your thinking. It’s not a war. It’s not a fight. Instead, it’s a challenge to establish equilibrium in your garden.

After all, your garden is part of nature. So are these bugs. So, even though you don’t want them to destroy your plants, you can maintain an appreciation for them. You can respect their urge to go for your plants. As you build this compassion into your gardening, it becomes mentally easier to face the challenge of how to handle them in your garden.

How To Battle Garden Pests Cheaply and Naturally

As you get ready to solve your pest problem, you want to focus on those two components: cost and natural pest repellants. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to deter pests from getting into your garden. Moreover, you can do this naturally, which saves on costs and also treats your plants (and the pests) much more kindly.

5 Ways to Battle Garden Pests Cheaply and Naturally

Here are five good options:

1. Plant The Right Flowers In Your Garden

Did you know that some flowers have natural pest-repellant qualities? Therefore, if you plant these in your garden, you easily deter pests from getting into everything. For example, marigolds are a good pest repellant. Other flowers attract specific predators that will naturally take care of various pests for you. For example, catmint attracts lacewing insects, which will then prey on aphids for you, protecting your plants.

2. Baking Soda Is a Natural Pesticide

You can kill certain garden pests, such as slugs, by pouring baking soda directly on them. Alternatively, make a spray solution with baking soda and water to use as a pesticide on various plants in your garden. This is an eco-friendly natural pesticide option that hardly costs anything.

3. Dish Soap Does The Job, Too

Did you know that the dish soap that you already use in your kitchen might also be a good pest repellant? Mix organic, natural non-bleach liquid dish soap with water. Spray this on your plants. It’s a semi-natural and very affordable pesticide.

4. Make a Garlic Spray

If you want a pesticide that is even more natural than dish soap would be, then consider making a garlic spray. Puree garlic cloves, mix them with water, cayenne pepper, and a little bit of vegetable oil, then spray it on your plants.

5. Use Essential Oils

There are so many great essential oils that you can use to battle garden pests cheaply and naturally. Different pests will respond to different oils but start by trying rosemary, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, spearmint, and orange essential oils.

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8 Uses of Baking Soda in Gardening

uses of baking soda in gardening

Baking soda is one of the most amazing, affordable products available to us. Hopefully you’re already using baking soda for cleaning throughout your home. If not, then you’re spending more money than you should on household cleaners. And today let’s talk about how baking soda’s benefits don’t stop there. There are so many uses of baking soda in gardening. Here are eight big ones:

1. Baking Soda for Soil Testing

Everything that you grow needs to grow in the right soil. The soil’s pH level is one of the most critical factors. Therefore, you should do soil testing before you plant. Baking soda provides an easy, cheap way to do that. Here’s what to do:

  • Take a tablespoon of soil and place it in a container.
  • Add a little bit of distilled water until the soil is mud.
  • Add a little bit of baking soda.
  • Watch.
  • Does the soil fizz? If so, then your soil has an acidic pH level.

Bonus tip: If the soil doesn’t fizz with baking soda, then you should do a second test. Take a fresh tablespoon of the soil. Add distilled vinegar to it. If it fizzes now, then your soil has an alkaline pH level. However, if neither the bakingd soda nor the vinegar cause fizzing, then you have soil with neutral pH.

2. Boost Your Plant Fertilization

Balcony Garden Web has a number of great suggestions of uses of baking soda in gardening. For example, they suggest   adding baking soda to fertilize slow-growing, dull-appearing plants. They say that you should mix one teaspoon each of baking soda and Epsom set with 1/2 teaspoon ammonia in one gall of water. Then add approximately one quart of that solution to each plant that you want to fertilize. You should seem them grow faster and brighter in no time.

3. Make Your Tomatoes Taste Better

This is one of my favorite tips from Balcony Garden Web. They explain that if you simply sprinkle a little bit of baking soda around the base of your tomato plants, you’ll be able to grow sweeter tomatoes. How is this possible? The soil absorbs the baking soda, lowering the natural acidity levels of the plant itself. Baking soda costs so little and yet it can work so much magic!

4. Get Rid of Garden Pests

It’s always so difficult to decide how to handle garden pests like worms and slugs. Some of them don’t do that much damage and you might decide to leave them alone. Others, however, can wreak havoc in your garden. If you don’t want to lose your plants, then you have to find some way to deal with them.

Baking soda can provide a solution. It’s eco-friendly and generally kind to your plants. However, it works as a pesticide. You can put it directly on slugs and gnats to kill them. Alternatively, you can make a solution that you spray on your plants to keep pests away.

5. Uses of Baking Soda on Plant Leaves

Did you know that if you have indoor household plants, you’re supposed to clean them? That’s right, household dust can settle on them and ruin them. A baking soda solution is a simple way to clean those leaves.

Even outdoors, though, you might find that baking soda helps the leaves of your plants. For example, a baking soda solution can help prevent fungus growth on plant leaves.

6. Add Baking Soda to Cut Flowers

Do you grow flowers in your backyard garden? If so, then perhaps you sometimes cut them and put them in a vase for yourself or to gift to others. Make those flowers last as long as possible by adding just a little bit of baking soda to the water inside that vase.

7. Deodorize Compost

Hopefully you have a compost for your garden. It’s such a waste if you don’t. However, the smell of a compost pile might have deterred you. If that’s the case, then baking soda can come to the rescue. Just sprinkle a little bit on top of the compost regularly. The smell will go away. You can then reap all the benefits of composting in your garden.

8. Cleaning Around the Garden

The plants are the most important part of your garden. However, they’re not the only part. You have gardening tools, statues, chairs, etc. Make sure that you keep all of these things clean for the best garden experience. Baking soda makes a great natural cleaner for all of these.

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How I Feel About the Hunting of Garden Pests

hunting garden pests

I’ve never had to deal with deer fussing about in my garden, but I have had plenty of squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, gophers, and cats use my raised beds as their very own buffet, walking path, and toilet. I’m speaking from my own limited experience here. But I’ve never felt comfortable with the idea of hunting garden pests.

I used to live in a busy suburban neighborhood where the squirrels reigned supreme. Now, I live in a small community that borders rural land. There are more trees here and plenty of wildlife. Every year, I have to grapple with pests (insects and mammals, alike) enjoying my fresh produce as their own. 

It’s infuriating. All that effort gone when a squirrel decides to take a small chomp out of every bean seedling. All that effort gone when birds get to seeds before they can even sprout. All that effort gone when a rabbit chows down on my lettuce that I’ve managed to protect from early bolting. All that effort when a cat decides my garden beds are its personal litter box. All that effort when something —  and I can’t be sure what — decides to uproot whatever it wants in the middle of the night seemingly just for fun. 

You’d think I’d be on board with hunting to get rid of garden pests, but I’m not. I recognize that hungry critters can really ruin the gardening season if they’re relentless enough, but I have the same attitude towards animal pests as I do insect critters and weeds.

Taking up space

We are in their space. Humans have taken up residence where once there was nothing but nature abound. It is not my right to delete these creatures to fit my idea of the perfect garden. Instead, I try my very best to work around the nuisance. 

I have a different approach to an indoor invasion, granted, but that’s mainly because indoor pests pose a more significant threat to household members’ health and safety.

Outside, I’m not the boss. I try to work with Mother Nature, not against her. For one, I don’t feel morally comfortable killing animals to make my life easier in the context of gardening. It’s my hobby. While I try to grow plenty of food to eat and save money, I won’t perish if a crop gets devoured by hungry creatures. I also think there are plenty of ways to co-exist peacefully with these so-called invaders. Hunting garden pests just isn’t in the cards for me.

Pest covers have really helped me stay sane this year by keeping squirrels, birds, and cabbage moths away from my delicate brassica seedlings. They’ve been working so well I’m considering adding them to two more beds. Barriers should be the first resort when dealing with nasty pests. I also grow extra lettuce to keep rabbits happy and out of my main beds. Most of my beds are high enough to keep small critters out, too. 

Cats seem to trot whoever they please no matter what I do, but the pest covers have done wonders to keep their paws out of my beds. I even still plant catnip to invite them to visit because I enjoy the company of sweet, docile neighborhood kitties. 

Breathe and reflect

I am an impatient gardener, and even I can find a moment to take a deep breath and ask myself if getting worked up is worth it. Would it be easy to murder all the squirrels running around my plots? Absolutely! It wouldn’t be psychologically simple, but it would really eliminate a big problem for me. Still, I don’t think it’s my right to say what belongs where. 

I decided to enter the world of gardening, and I made a deal with myself that I would work with the forces of nature and not against them. Who am I to know what the consequences of my actions might be? Haven’t we, as humans already made poor decisions in this regard? Pesticide use for pest control has decimated bee populations and is having important ramifications. 

Yes, it’s harder to take the long road. But a little effort is what it takes to grow a plant from seed in the first place. Surely, as gardeners, we have it in us to accept and handle a few extra roadblocks on our way to success. 

If this kind of gardening philosophy appeals to you, I highly recommend reading Michael Pollan’s book Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education. It’s a book that changed the way I think about how I view so-called garden invaders.