Written by - Kaitlynn from MIgardener
With the 4th of July just past us, I've been thinking a lot about all of the animals who are afraid of firework season. For American gardeners, this is a whole week of a completely animal-free garden! Now is the perfect time to make a battle plan for defending your garden from large pests like squirrels, rabbits, etc. Hopefully, this guide will be exactly what you need for your plan of defense in your organic garden this season.
Let's get started!
The Golden Rule of Pest Control
In general, pest control is less about keeping pests out of the garden and more about decreasing the number of damage pests can have. In a 100% organic garden, there is a level of practicality you will need when it comes to keeping animals out. Organic gardening often means working with nature, not against it. Because of this, we have the widespread idea of the golden rule of pest control. The golden rule is this: Prepare your garden for a 10% loss to pests, and you will be able to have a harvest of 90% perfection. For smaller gardens, the percentage of loss may be higher than 10%. However, if you plant more and use high-intensity spacing methods, the odds will be in your favor.
Deer are absolutely beautiful animals, but will most definitely find all their favorite foods in the garden. You'll be able to tell deer have been enjoying your crop when you find deer tracks in your soil and start seeing damage in crops like beans, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and other leafy greens. They are gentle at heart, so it won't be a battle. A simple fence, string line, or scarecrow is normally all you need to keep deer out of the garden. There is also a list of non-toxic deer repellant sprays. For more info on keeping deer out, click here.
Squirrels love to eat seeds and any ripening fruit like tomatoes and berries. Gardens tend to be a squirrels paradise, but there are a few tricks you can use to deter them from staying there. Note: these tips are for repelling pests, not killing them. There are plenty of humane ways to keep pests out of the garden. For squirrels, there are natural repellants you can apply to your garden like ground chili pepper, powdered predator urine. For more on keeping squirrels out of the garden, click here.
You'll be able to detect a rabbit problem when you start to find tiny pea-sized droppings all around your garden. It's easier to list the things rabbits don't like in the garden and safer to assume they see the rest of it as an all you can eat buffet! Rabbits have an amazing sense of smell, so one of the most effective ways of deterring them is with reverse aromatherapy. Plant stinky things like onions. marigolds, basil, mint, tomatoes, and lavender to keep them away from your other crops. For more on keeping rabbits out, click here.
A Word About Birds:
Some people mistake birds for pests in the garden. Though birds will occasionally peck at ripening or ripened fruit, they are much more beneficial than they are harmful to the garden. They are some of the best gardening companions ever because they will feast on harmful insects and weeds that go to seed. Chickens make especially good organic fertilizer. Some say mourning doves are a more docile choice if you are looking to harvest free-range eggs and get all the benefits of having birds in the garden. Painting rocks like fake fruit can deter birds from snacking on your harvest, but all in all, you want these animals in your garden!
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