Organic, Humane Pest Control For Your Organic Vegetable Garden
Growing your own vegetables organically is very rewarding, but it takes some innovative, humane, pest deterrents to keep rodents, birds, snails and slugs from feasting on the fruits, or should we say, the fruits and veggies of your labour.
Below I will show you some humane ways to protect some of the more susceptible fruit and vegetables growing in your organic veggie patch.
Baiting rats and mice, or putting down snail pellets is something I abhorred. Not only does it kill the intended victims horrifically, slowly and very painfully, but any pets, or wildlife; e.g. cats, dogs, birds or possums that happen to eat these dead rodents and snail will also suffer terribly from the affects of these pest poisons.
Dogs, cats and other animals, if not treated quickly and successfully by a vet, often also die from pest baits. Toxic pest bait products are very dangerous to have lying around in your garden for wildlife. There are many reports of young children, pets and wildlife being poisoned from ingesting pest baits.
To Humanely Stop Snails Eating Your Vegetables You Will Need
- Veggie net – we like the ones from Green Harvest, as they are made of Polyethylene and not PVC
- Large rubber bands
- Non-treated FSC wooden stakes, or small bendable Galvanized Iron Stakes – from hardware and gardening suppliers.
- Copper Tape – from any hardware of gardening suppliers. Copper Tape works by stopping snails and slugs in their tracks, as they hate to cross the tape, as it gives them an unpleasant, small electric shock.
- Thin Natural Cotton Rope or Hemp Rope
- Oranges cut in half and all the pulp removed
- Beer and some sort of small container; e.g. a 1 litre plastic bottle chopped in half. This last method does kill the snails and we personally do not like it and so far have never had to use it. This really is a last resort and at least we hope the snails and slugs will drown in what we hope is an intoxicated and drowsy, oblivious state. It is still preferable to poison snail bait.
Method 1. Keep Out of My Pot Plant
Veggie Netted Strawberry Plant
If you are growing pest loving produce such as, strawberries, tomatoes and capsicums in pots, then this is a really easy way to stop pest attacks.
- Put either two small wooden stakes in the soil at opposite ends of the pot, or alternatively use a piece of galvanized wire and bend it into a rainbow shape so that each end is again in the soil at opposite ends of the pot.
- Next cut a large enough square of Veggie Net to ensure it will adequately fit over the stakes and around the pot.
- Now cut your large rubber bands to break the circle and tie the ends of a few together to form a long elastic rope. Then tie the ends of your rubber band rope together to form a large rubber band loop. Make sure you tie enough rubber bands together to ensure that they will fit over the stakes and around the circumference of your pot.
- Fit the Veggie Net over the top of the stakes and then stretch your rubber band loop over the pot and under the rim so that it holds the Veggie Net securely around the rim of the pot. Using a rubber band loop makes it easy to get on and off to collect your strawberries.
- If you like for extra protection you can stick Copper Tape around the circumference of your pot.
*Extra Tip -If slugs are already living inside the soil of your pot, then you can veggie net around the individual clusters of strawberries themselves.
Method 2. Don’t Eat my Produce!
If you are growing organic vegetables; e.g. tomatoes and capsicum in a vegetable patch, you can simply cover the individual plants with Veggie Net loosely and secure the net around the stem of the plants with some soft rope, being careful not to damage the stem of the plants. Sort of like a big balloon tied in at the bottom of the stalk. You may like to pop a few wooden stakes around the individual plant and then drape the netting over the plant and tie.
Copper Tape on Vegetable Garden Borders
Strawberry Patch Border Box Method
Strawberries growing in a garden bed are very susceptible to pests and it is much harder to organically control these pests than if you grew your strawberries in pots.
Try using some sustainable and untreated wooden planks to form a box around your strawberry plants, sort of like a mini garden bed within another garden bed . Make sure you dig the wood at least 30 cm’s down into the soil and that there are no gaps between the corners or along the sides of the planks.
Next stick copper tape around the entire length of the wooden border, you may want to use a double width of tape.
Then push a vertical wooden stake into each inner corner of your wooden box and cover with Veggie Net, using either pegs, or a staple gun to secure the net around the perimeter of the box. Be sure to leave some areas that you can open and unpeg to collect your strawberries.
Important: make sure you can secure down the entire perimeter of the net, as rats, mice & birds etc.. are opportunists and will find even the smallest opening to fit through.
The above method will keep out rats, mice and birds and it will help to deter snails and slugs to a certain degree. But slugs especially dig down under the soil and love hiding under mulch, therefore you may need to take a further step or two to keep these slippery visitors from enjoying your precious strawberries and this is where oranges work wonders…
Orange Halves to Catch Snails and Slugs Method
- Cut an orange in half
- Eat or juice the flesh, so you are left with just the skin
- At dusk set your orange halves face down on the soil close to your strawberry plants
- In the morning collect orange halves complete with slugs and snails inside and toss in your garden waste bin.
Doing this regularly will greatly reduce your slug and snail problem.
Beer Trapping Slugs and Snails – please note this does kill them.
Dig a half a plastic bottle down into the soil so just the rim is at soil level. Fill with beer and snails and slugs are attracted to the beer and will fall in and drown.
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