Dealing with Garden Pests

Dealing with Garden Pests

Article by Tauqeer Hassan

One of the most frustrating things that can happen to any keen gardener is finding holes and other ailments in your plants as you wonder through your garden. What should have been an enjoyment of your gardening efforts soon turns into a nightmare as you find more and more evidence of pests in your garden. These pests come in many different shapes and sizes, with some of the most common being worms, slugs, caterpillars, snails and birds. Since they are a natural part of the environment, it is impossible to totally eradicate these pests, but you can still do a lot to protect your garden and your efforts.

While garden pests do come in many different varieties, those belonging to the insect family can wreak the most havoc on any garden. Insects have been known to destroy entire gardens in a matter of hours. The first step to dealing with insects, is prevention. Reduce the areas that insects and other diseases thrive. Decaying matter, weeds, and old leaves provide ample breeding grounds for these pests. Clear them as soon and as often as possible. Regularly turning the soil in uncultivated parts of the garden can also help you eliminate any insects that might have taken up shelter underground. Where possible, do create your compost heap in a part of the garden as far away from your most vulnerable plants as possible.

Another popular pest and plant disease control method is the use of dormant sprays. These sprays are most effective if used when your garden’s plants are dormant too, which in the northern hemisphere, is around February. Because these sprays can be quite potent, it is very important to follow the usage directions carefully. Just spraying indiscriminately, will be both ineffective, and result in you killing off huge tracts of your garden in the process. While you do want to kill off pests, you do not want to kill every living creature in your garden. A lot of insects and bugs are beneficial for the healthy growth of some plants, so you do need to do your research, and use such sprays carefully.

Another oft ignored pest that wreaks havoc in many gardens is the common bird. Many gardeners try and keep these at bay by chasing them away on sight. It can get tiresome just keeping an eye on your garden, hence the popularity of scarecrows. These can be less effective in places with little wind, as the birds soon get used to them. A better approach could be the installation of a bird feeder in the garden. As well as keeping the birds from the more vulnerable plants in the guardian, a bird feeder can add to the overall character of your garden. Lastly, domestic pets like dogs and cats can help eliminate the problem of birds in the garden, although such pets can themselves damage your garden.

Some gardeners are unfortunate enough to suffer gopher infestations. The first sign of this is seeing dirt mounds around the garden, and the inexplicable death of otherwise healthy plants. These rodents can be anything between 5 and 14 inches long, and are often black or a light brown in color. Their preferred diet of plant roots is what kills off most plants where gophers are found. An effective way of dealing with them is using specialized gopher traps. Once you have located their tunnels, you can use the traps, or in more extreme cases, use smoke bombs thrown into these tunnels to eliminate them.

The main trick to dealing with garden pest though, is swift action. Once you spot signs of pests, eliminate them as soon as possible, before they become established. Once done, follow the guidance above, and eliminate their breeding grounds, and by extension any chance of the pest problem recurring. If your garden is close to your neighbors, it can be beneficial to coordinate pest elimination efforts, to ensure that all the areas near your vulnerable plants are pest free.

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You might also want to learn the ways of choosing the right gardening method and technique and methods of growing your own vegetables and fruits.

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