April 24, 2018
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible to grow flourishing flowers or vegetables without pesticides. We unearthed lots of ways to protect your garden from pests, both the insect-variety and the furry, four-legged kind – and do it naturally. If you’re passionate about growing organically and avoiding herbicides, fungicides and pesticides, read on!
Companion Plant Attack
Some pests don’t like aromatic herbs such as thyme, rosemary and mint so, planting those around your garden is sure to keep a few annoying pests at bay. Powerful-smelling marigolds lure some pests, like Japanese beetles, away from herbs and veggies. When they crawl over the pungent blooms, you can pick the beetles off and drop them in soapy water. Alternating garlic with other veggies will draw away slugs — you may have to sacrifice the garlic, but you’ll save your other edibles!
Mother Earth Living has more herbal ideas for insect sprays, including an herb and soap ant repellent and a garlic and chile insecticide.
Furry, Four-Legged Pests
To enjoy some floral color without rabbits eating their way through the blooms, pick plants that rabbits hate and save your garden from the naughty nibblers. Also called floss flower, the purple-blue ageratum is one of the few annuals that bloom in light shade, and rabbits seem to dislike plant’s textured blooms. Another turnoff for rabbits is the cleome. Rabbits turn up their noses at its strong skunk-like odor and prickly stems.
The Little Red Eating Machine
Ladybugs aren’t just adorable. They’re also voracious when it comes to eating annoying aphids, scale, mites and mealy bugs. You can buy them at Nick’s Garden Center in Aurora, at 2001 S. Chambers Road. When you bring them home add half to your garden and keep the remaining ladies cool for a few days before you release them.
The Praying Mantis is another little hungry bug helper. They’re mesmerizing to watch but use them with care where they’ll gobble up the unwanted bugs. These fascinating predators don’t discriminate between beetles in your squash section and insects we like: bees and butterflies.
How to Make Natural “Pesticides”
Neem oil is an all-natural plant and powerful natural insecticide containing 50 natural bug deterrents. This bitter tree leaf can be used to make a neem oil spray using one-half ounce of high-quality neem oil plus one-half teaspoon of organic liquid soap mixed with two quarts of warm water. You can purchase neem oil at the Home Depot at 6000 S. Gun Club Rd. in Aurora.
Aphids, Mites and Cutworms
Blogger DaNelle at Weed ‘em and Reap says her favorite homemade pest spray is a combination of essential oils and witch hazel, and it works against ants, fleas, aphids, snails, spiders, caterpillars, slugs, pill bugs, gnats, flies and cutworms. DaNelle has recipes for rodent and mosquito sprays, too.
For an assortment of essential oils near Southshore, visit the Zero Market at 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora. Also effective and safe for your vegetable garden is a red pepper spray made of one tablespoon red pepper powder, six drops of dish soap and a gallon of water. Home Guides recommends using the spray once a week to keep pests off plants and the site has more organic spray ideas using oil and baby shampoo.
Gorgeous Gardens in Southshore
We’re seeing plenty of green-thumbed homeowners taking to their gardens in Southshore. The floral and vegetable beds are tucked behind the new homes which feature lakeside living in this amazing master-planned community. Stop in and tour the spectacular model homes, built by three of the region’s top builders Toll Brothers, Century Communities and Richmond American Homes. The new designs are available in ranch and two-story models, priced from the upper $300s to the $700s.