by Charlene Burgi
Did you ever notice that pests come in all shapes and sizes? We all have dealt with the pesky telemarketer during the dinner hour, but garden pests are a bit different since we can’t hang up on them or have our gardens placed on a “no call” list.
Garden pests can come packaged as pretty and graceful as deer or as cute as little cottontail rabbits. Others sting, set up camp underground, or find any crevice that is difficult to reach. Typically it doesn’t matter in what form they appear—their presence is something we must address. They quickly wear out their welcome mat as they wreak havoc in our environment. The real question is how to be rid of them, and that answer can vary depending on the beast.
As I write, I gaze out the window on the huge flock of pinyon jays devouring every morsel I set out for the little birds and quail this morning. I have to remind myself that the Bay-Friendly theory is to use the least toxic means for eradicating pests. Those jays are marauders. They upset birdfeeders and scare the little feathered friends into hiding. The last two days I have resorted to running outside and yelling at them. They know they are no longer welcome but find every opportunity to return. Now they fly away when they see the front door open. This method to eliminate them is less toxic though a bit crazed. Thank goodness I live away from viewing neighbors!
I discovered yet another pest last night—mealybugs. They added their miniature cluster of white snow-like fluff to the blooming Christmas cactus. This prompted me to break out the bottle of rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs to dab away each outbreak I could find. This is a tough pest to eliminate but it can be done with perseverance.
Last week’s blog mentioned I was grateful for the aphids on the cauliflower in the greenhouse (a must read, lest you really think me daft). A blast of irrigation water seems to have held them at bay. I was ready to douse them by adding three tablespoons of dish soap to a gallon of water, if water alone didn’t work.
Spring always finds unwanted weeds in the garden. Get rid of these pests by using a gallon of white vinegar with a tablespoon of soap mixed and sprayed on the weeds. There is a much stronger solution of white vinegar used for horticultural purposes if you want to give it a try. The down side is living in a garden that smells like a tossed green salad for a while.
Deer and rabbits are serious pests for most of us. I still like using one whipped egg white in a gallon of water and spraying the plants to deter deer from browsing. The solution must be re-administered when it rains or if irrigation water hits the plants. I am still working on the rabbit problem, though I have noticed the population dwindling since seeing three bobcats on the property. This certainly isn’t the least toxic method, but it has been effective.
Today I was sent an email that tops the list for yet another less toxic method for eradicating pests. This idea was for wasps—using vodka. Seriously! Apparently you spray the vodka on the wasps and they keel over. Permanently! This is the wrong time of the year to test the theory but the thought made me smile.
The list could go on with gophers, raccoons, skunks, thrips, tent caterpillars, etc. Please share your methods for eliminating pests in a Bay-Friendly fashion. Your shared ideas will be gratefully appreciated by other readers dealing with similar problems.