Do you have problems with pests invading your gardens and flower beds? Follow these simple solutions to get rid of rodents and japanese beetles
Chipmunks, squirrels, mice, and voles love to nibble on your prized tulip bulbs. An easy way to stop them is to interplant members of the genus Allium (which includes onions, garlic, and chives, among others) with your tulips and other bulbs that are enticing to rodents. Try ornamental onion bulbs known for their cut flower potential, such as drumstick chives (Allium sphaerocephalon).
Here’s another onion-related shortcut for foiling bulb-munching critters. Sprinkle a little onion juice in the hole as you plant your tulip bulbs. To make onion juice, just throw some onions in a blender with a little water and blend on high for several seconds. Onions that are past their prime for cooking are perfect for a batch of onion juice. Check your onion supply, or ask your local market gardener if he has any onions that have gone bad.
Garlic planted with bulbs also tends to repel rodents. Try sticking some garlic cloves in the bed at the same time you plant bulbs in the fall. The garlic will sprout during the winter, so not only will this tactic repel rodents but it also will mark all the spots where you can expect to see bulbs pop up in the spring. Next spring, you can clip the garlic greens, chop them up, and eat them in salads or use them in stir-fries.
Protect Bulbs with Crushed Shells and Pepper
Another way to protect your prized bulbs is to sprinkle crushed oyster shells or clamshells and a couple of teaspoons of cayenne pepper on top of the bulbs as you plant them. If you don’t have access to a beach, visit a farm store or feed supplier to buy the crushed shells. Critters don’t like the feel of the shells or the fiery kick of the cayenne.
Install Wire Mesh under a Raised Bed
If voles or other rodents are digging in your garden, screen them out for good by installing a simple mesh barrier beneath a raised bed. You can buy a kit for framing a raised bed or fashion one yourself from scrap boards or landscape timbers. Clear the area where you plan to install the bed and spread rustproof wire mesh over the area. Then assemble the frame right on top of the wire mesh, using a staple gun to secure the edges of the mesh to the outside of the frame. Add 6 inches or more of soil and compost to the bed, and you’re ready to plant. Once the initial work is done, you’ll have years of successful gardening without any rodent problems. (This setup will not work for some root crops, such as longer carrot varieties.)
Protect Squash with Panty Hose
To stop squash vine borers almost without effort, try the panty hose technique used by Illinois gardener and former biology professor Keith Crotz. “Cut a leg off a pair of panty hose at the ankle and thigh level,” Keith says. “Roll it tightly and set the roll around the base of a plant once the first set of leaves form.” Then let the vine grow for a week or two. After the vine has lengthened, unroll the hose along the vine, covering the cotyledons and bases of leaf stems as well as the main stem. Eventually, you’ll extend the hose to protect the first 12 inches or so of the main stem. The barrier prevents vine borer moths from laying eggs at the base of the plant, which is the most vulnerable part. This technique works for squash, melons, pumpkins, and zucchini.