Friday, November 16, 2012
Keeping Away Pests
I had great plans this season for having the most productive vegetable garden in all of Arizona. I was going to grow everything from seed, produce a ton of vegetables, and cook yummy, healthy meals from my own backyard every night. Can anyone guess how that went? Anyone? Anyone?
First, I enlisted the hubby and transformed my garden space. We removed old beds, tilled the soil, put in new beds, mixed the soil with compost... it goes on and on and on. When we were done, I had four beautiful garden beds ready for seeds! And boy did I ever do it up! I planted broccoli, spinach, lettuce, artichokes, cabbage, carrots, peas, garlic, onions, and even some flowers.
Well, soon after I did all this, some neighborhood cat decided that my boxes were the biggest, most luxurious cat boxes he had ever seen. Like a spa retreat for cats. Grrr. So I cleaned up the beds, planted some new seeds, and sprayed some of Dave the Garden Guy's organic cat-away solution around my garden beds so the cat wouldn't disturb this round of seeds.
Apparently, the neighborhood cat likes cayenne pepper, because the solution did nothing to deter him. So I cleaned up the beds again, planted seeds again, and rigged up some kitty barriers. I hammered a few nails around of the wood beds (with help from the munchkin) and kept wrapping twine from nail to nail until the whole thing was covered like a big spider web. Actually, it looked pretty cool.
I think that took care of the cat (thank goodness), and some of the seeds were able to start growing unmolested. But I started noticing some of the seedlings getting eaten. In particular, some critter out there really liked the broccoli plants. (I don't blame them.)
I figured I had a bird problem, so I went to Lowes and plunked down a few bucks for some bird netting to go over the plants. And this time, I picked up some plant starts as well. I didn't have time to start from seeds again, so I gave myself a head start. Can you guess where this is going?
Turns out it wasn't birds eating the plants. It was some sort of bug. I'm guessing crickets. Whatever it was, it wasn't deterred one bit by my quaint little bird netting, of course. The holes in that netting are far bigger than any bug coming into the garden. Easy access!
So I found this excellent article on using garden covers to keep out pests. Based on a tip I saw in there, I bought some tulle (that's the netted fabric that they make bridal veils out of) and put that over the beds. (This fabric is super cheap AND Joann's fabrics has tons of coupons online. If this works, it might end up being the least expensive option yet.) I've just planted another round of seedlings under the netting. Oh God, I hope this works.
I should mention that I did also try some companion planting to help deal with pests as well. In particular, I have a lot of garlic and onions planted throughout the raised beds. What I found is that yes, the pests have kept away from the garlic and onions, but they are happy enough to eat whatever plant is right next to it. So I'll keep my fingers crossed that the tulle thing works. I know it's not a solution for everything. Some plants need to be pollinated by bees and whatnot, and netting would prevent that, but I'm hoping I'm OK for at least this season. I don't think I'm ready to plant another round of plants!