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Monday, April 12, 2010

Garden Pests and What To Do About Them.

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.

Disaster In The Garden

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.

Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living projectThis 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.


  1. I don't have a problem with furry critters eating our plants. That probably has something to do with coyotes in the area. The woods behind our house is devoid of all chipmunks/squirrels, barely any partridge/ruffed grouse, and certainly deer and moose don't come around any more. It's been a few years since I've seen a deer in the field. I might live with a little bit of plant damage if that meant the woods near the house wouldn't be empty any more. I only hope the coyotes will move on because they seem to have killed everything here.

  2. I feel your pain, I truly do. Bunnies, bugs, voles, deer-they all rank high on my pest list and grrrrr! So wish I could do something about it but sometimes we have to live and get along. Very nice post. Thanks for the link. I am honored.

  3. Hi, Melanie;
    Great post. (Thanks for the link!) And, I'm glad to see another garden who'd advocates trying to get along with animals and insects. While I've mentioned before, I'd love a sure fire way to rid myself of our infernal ants, it goes against the grain to resort to toxic measures. Happy Monday.

  4. Kara, I used to worry about coyotes eating my baby lambs, Luckily they never did. What are they killing at your house.

    Tina, I like your getting along philosophy

    Kate, Ugh, those horrid ants, I feel for you

  5. dear melanie..i saw you over at sonny's blog with your kind comments and thought i would come here and read a little of yours.
    i just love this post and your getting along with the animals instead of making them into "rabbit stew"!
    you know, now is about the time here in southern ontario that some of the grape farmers and cherry farmers will be using "hired guns" to be shooting the birds[robins included] that just want a taste of the berries. i think that there should be a law against such a practise, "sure" and i told one friend, "they will be killing the birds and then be complaining about the mosquitoes and insects that the birds clean up for them!"
    could i put you on my favourite links? i will figure how i can put you right under sonny's blog...
    have a great day you nature lover[plants and animals both].......from terry

  6. Thanks Terry for visiting . Yes I would love to be on your link list.

  7. Ugh - such a dilemma. Your pests are so much cuter than ours though - we have RATS in the garden! Living in the city, I'll find that they munch away on my perfect ripe tomatoes and beets. Being an animal lover, it's hard to even hate a rat. But eating my tomatoes gets them a step closer.

    Great Earth Day post!

  8. Stevie-Yuck, Rats are scary. Can't the city help you get rid of them ?

  9. O wow I see Terry was here. I am so glad. I am the Sunny that she is reference to. She was my Baby-sitter years ago, I to would like to put you on my Blog list. It is a great site.

    My Question here is as Terry mentioned was Rabbit Stew. No Hare here but the Cotton Tails abound. I had made that comment in a post last November. Any Ideas on how to keep them at bay. in my blog I gave no direction as I found nothing works. except the Rabbit Stew bit

  10. Someone told me to spread human hair around the plants they are eating. I haven't tried it yet. Do you have a lot of annoying rabbits?
    I would love you to make a link to my blog on your site.

  11. Rabbits for us are like stray Cats, they abound. Here we see them running around all the time. Cute, yes, I will give these little beasts that for sure. They are so destructive though. I wish it was not the case.

    Thank-you and I hope I can do my bit to spread the word on your wonderful site, even if a little

  12. O the Human hair bit, Rabbits do not read what we write !!!!!!!! I tried that to no avail. Caging is about all that worked but that is so ugly in a garden like mine. It does save the plants though.

  13. Reg- Thanks for the compliment on my site :) Sorry to hear you are overrun with rabbits. I have heard they go in cycles. Once the population reaches the carrying capacity they start to die out.

  14. This was a great read, Melanie. Thank you for your contribution to the project! I believe rabbits are bothering my garden, as well. I have a fenced in backyard but lately noticed some of my plants are chopped off about an inch above ground level, with the large stalk of the plant lying next to it. Deer are a problem for me in the front yard. I dug up all my phlox and moved them to the back last wk. so I don't have to worry about them being destroyed again. I still have lilies in the front, which they will no doubt chop off as soon as the tender buds form. Usually I manage to have enough to look pretty, though. I'm growing veggies now...lettuce, mescalin, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, and a bunch of herbs. I put them in containers on the deck because the yard just isn't a good place for them. We have too many huge trees. If you come up with a good recipe for rabbit stew let me know...although I doubt I'd be able to kill a bunny nor eat it. Take care! Jan

  15. Targeting the deer’s smell is highly effective. I use Havahart's deer off repellent, which targets the deer’s sense of smell and taste. Others only work on one sense and don’t work well.


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