The Wednesday Dig: Ways to Get Rid of Garden Pests FAST

Today we’re going to focus on quick fixes for those of you who are too lazy to go the IPM route (see last week’s Wednesday Dig post) or for the occasional problem that slips past your best defenses.

The most basic, most widely effective and most natural spot killer for your little buggers is very easy to make:

Step 1
Heat enough water to fill a squirt bottle to the temperature of a nice warm bath.

Step 2
Add these ingredients to the water:

  • One teaspoon of dish liquid (we use Dawn)
  • One teaspoon of vegetable or canola oil
  • A pinch of salt and a pinch of Epsom salt (about a 10th of a teaspoon)

Step 3
Shake the warm mixture in the spray bottle and commence spraying all your unwanted invaders

That’s all!

It works well on aphids, spider mites, scale (to a certain degree) and mealy bug. My favorite way to use this is to squish all the bugs you can see before you spray–it’ll help make sure you cover as much ground as possible. Also, squishing the bugs releases hormones that warn other bugs to stay away.

Getting Rid of Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails can wreak havoc on a beautiful garden in the blink of an eye. The best control for them is prevention. If you’re gardening in raised beds, like The Wanderer Guides, an easy way to keep these slimy jerks out is to put a strip of copper around the planter–slugs and snails won’t cross copper. It’s easy to make a decorative strip around the planter by gluing pennies around it. (Pre-1982 pennies work best since they are 95% copper whereas newer ones are just copper-plated…both should work well enough). Garden centers also sell copper tape that adheres to planters.

We also sprinkle chili flakes and crushed egg shells around our tender plants to keep the slimy guys away. The capsaicin in the chili is uncomfy and the egg shells are too sharp for them to crawl over. Diatomaceous earth works like the egg shells.

Getting Rid of Ants
Ants are annoying. Whether they’re in your pants or your garden, they annoy you and protect pests that suck your plants dry like aphids. To deter them from hanging out, we sprinkle cinnamon all over the soil.

If they’re really annoying you, put a few piles of cornmeal within easy reach of these little critters and they will bring it back to their nest. This works because ants can only truly digest decaying food. Even when they eat fresh food, they throw it up when they get back to the hive and wait for it to decay. Since cornmeal has strong antifungal properties, it seriously hinders the decay of all the food the ants bring back and causes them to either starve or move to a more suitable local.

Before taking any extermination measures with pests in your garden, take time to consider what those little guys do in the long run. If you have caterpillars eating radish leaves, why not leave them be? You most likely aren’t going to be eating those leaves and the radish itself will be fine (because who doesn’t love butterflies after all). Remember–everything is connected and though it may be annoying, these guys have their places too.