Dealing with Pests
So you’ve built your raised bed garden, filled it with perfect soil and your seeds have sprouted into lush green plants. It turns out you’re not the only one eyeing your fresh, tasty vegetables – there are all sorts of critters out there hoping to make a meal out of your entire garden. There’s nothing more frustrating than walking out to your lettuce patch, only to find little stubs!
Who’s after your veggies, and what are safest ways to protect the harvest?
It helps to put the culprits into several groups – bugs, critters and pets. Bugs are a real pain, but they don’t eat your entire garden overnight, and there are organic pesticides and other controls you can learn to use effectively. It’s best to focus on the bigger critters – usually furry ones, who can eat up your entire garden overnight.
Deer and rabbits are by far the most destructive pests in the home garden. If it weren’t for that movie Bambi, and the fact that they’re called deer instead of “yard rats,” people might see deer as the pests they are, instead of something cute and cuddly that need to be protected.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there are about 1.5 million car accidents with deer each year that result in $1 billion in vehicle damage, about 150 human fatalities, and over 10,000 personal injuries.
So how do you know if your damage is from deer or rabbits? Examine the leaves. Deer crush their food, so the remains would be torn and shredded. Rabbits have sharp little teeth and their damage looks like scissors have sliced each stem.
Another way to tell is to look for droppings. Rabbits leave little pea sized pellets, while deer leave oval shapes that are less than an inch long.
There have been significant advances in organic controls for deer, rabbits, squirrels and even dogs and cats. One company I heartily recommend is www.imustgarden.com, which has a full line of safe sprays you can use directly on edible plants.