Until yesterday I mostly thought of garden pests as being insects, like aphids, that suck the life out of a plant, gross looking slugs that you can’t bare to touch, but you must because they are responsible for the holes in the leaves, fungi that coat the plant in a fuzzy white mould or viruses that turns the leaves a fascinating colour.
Now I'm adding hares to my list. I have two wild hares/bunnies that spend their time looking cute, except yesterday when they decided to feast on fresh spring greens, namely the shoots of my sprouting crocus bulbs. I decided the bunnies aren't cute any more. Several people suggested, that in revenge, I turn them into rabbit stew.
I suspect the bunnies ate the crocus shoots because they are the only fresh green thing growing.
Many people have problems with four legged pests. The people over on Curbstone Valley Gardens put up a fence to deter the deer that were eating the fresh new shoots of their newly established orchard, and when the deer jumped over it they erected another fence. Kate, over on High Altitude Gardening, advocates growing plants that deer don’t like the smell of. Tina over on In The Garden, posted about voles eating the roots of her Japanese maple tree. Like me, she suspected the voles were very hungry.
It is annoying and discouraging to have all ones work destroyed by pests. I don’t usually worry about a few holes in my cabbage leaves because they don’t affect the taste. However, to have all my crocuses eaten or row of cabbages systematically destroyed makes me want to get out there and kill the offenders, but I would never be able to kill them all.
Of course there are a myriad of poisons I could spray on my plants that would properly kill the pests, but if they kill the pests I shudder to think what the poisons would do to me, should I eat the vegetables.
I've learned that interplanting, crop rotation and companion planting are effective ways to stop pests from destroying the whole crop, that accepting less then perfect looking plants is much more realistic, that growing more vegetables than I need means there is enough for me as well as the pests. To me, getting along with other animals and insects is a better way to garden. Sharing works so much better and is less stressful than anything else I might do.
This post is my contribution to the Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living project, In recognition of Earth Day, which is April 22, 2010. Jan, over on Thanks for 2day, created this project to "share ways that garden bloggers are actively practicing a greener lifestyle and contributing to protecting our environment." Go over there to find out how you can contribute, and to have a chance of winning a prize.