Plant and Gardening Pest Control {how to garden}

Garden pests…you know you have them, we all do!  Today we are continuing our How to Garden series with plant and gardening pest control and how to get rid of your unwanted garden pests. No matter how perfect our gardens seem, just under the nearest leaf or tunneling under the soil they are there.  We can never totally eradicate pests from our garden but we can go a long way towards minimizing their damage by following a  few simple steps. There are all kinds of different pests in the garden.  I happen to fight elk, slugs, mice, and cabbage moths.  Every garden is different depending on where you live. Remedies are quite universal whether you are fighting Colorado Potato Beetles, aphids or deer.

Garden Pests

Invite Beneficial Insects

My first line of defense against destructive insects is it to invite beneficial insects into my garden.  Many insects feed on other insects or lay eggs on them…either way they are taken out before they can do much damage to the garden.  To make your garden a welcoming place for beneficial insects you need to provide them with food and shelter.

I use flowers scattered throughout the garden…I plant cosmos, yarrow, borage, dill, alyssum, buckwheat, and lemon balm in my garden.  I also let wild queen anne’s lace, tansy, and field daises grow wild all around the outside perimeter of the garden.

Shelter is found by letting things go a bit ‘wild’ around the edges of the garden. A perfectly weed free immaculate garden is not as inviting as one with few wild untamed spaces for beneficials to find shade and shelter.

Plant and Gardening

Use Row Covers

Another great way to ward off veggie eating insects is to use row covers. You can use clear plastic or light weight spun fabric is held up by small hoops or brackets.  It is an inexpensive fix to those extra annoying pests like cabbage moths which lay eggs in your cabbage family plants, when the eggs hatch your lovely cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli is covered with little green worms that eat and poo all over your veggies…ewwww!

Trap Garden Invaders

Next is trapping garden invaders. I live in the Pacific Northwest and we grow some very large, very hungry slugs around here!  I keep traps in my garden at all time to catch these slimy pests.  Old boards laid on damp soil is a favorite place for them to hide.  Shallow bowls sunk into the ground full of beer is a great place for them to go for some libations…and to drown!

Other Solutions

I have also been known to pay my children per slug to get them for me…a pitchfork makes quick work of the little buggers.  Can you say Hick?

To get rid of insects like aphids and spiddle bugs use the good old-fashioned hard spray of water! This dislodges most of the pests and knocks off their sucking mouth parts!

You can also smother insects things like cabbage worms by going out early in the morning while it is damp and sprinkling white flour on them.  This cause them to desiccate and die!  Spray off the flour and dead bugs the next day

Hand-picking is another easy method.  Go out when your particular pest is most active with a bucket of soapy water and pick them off and through them in the buck…very therapeutic for a gardener!  I do this to tent caterpillars.

You can also lay a sheet under infested plants and shake them to dislodge unwanted insects…them dump them into your bucket of water.

For bigger pest like rabbits you will need to fence your garden or get a dog or cat to patrol.

For much bigger pest like deer and elk you will need a substantial fence…or as in my case a camel to patrol your garden perimeter.

But you may be trading one big garden pest for a Bigger garden pest!

So to recap we can…

  • Attract Beneficial Insects
  • Cover
  • Trap
  • Hand Pick
  • Spray (water not poison)
  • Smother
  • Shake
  • Patrol
  • Fence

As the saying goes Nature bats last so don’t expect to have a pest free garden…it will never happen. But with these tips you can keep them at bay long enough to get a great harvest!

How to Garden Series:

Step 1 – Ground Site Selection
Step 2 – Improve Gardening Soils
Step 3 – Garden Beds, Pockets and Pots 101
Step 4 – What To Plant
Step 5 – Gardening with Children
Step 6 – Top 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow From Seed
Step 7 – Cut Flower Gardening 101
Step 8 – Container Gardening 101
Step 9 – How to Grow a Salsa Garden
Step 10 – How to grow a Perennial Garden
Step 11 – How to Grow Strawberries In Your Garden
Step 12 – Six Steps to Reduce Water Needed in My Garden
Step 12 – Five Best Herbs Go Grow for Kitchen Use
Step 13 – Waging War on Weeds
Step 14 – Plant and Gardening Pest Control
Step 15 – How to Preserve Water in your garden
Step 16 – 7 Ways To Store Vegetables  {from garden}


Kim is a small organic farmer who lives in the Pacific Northwest raising organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel! She blogs at the inadvertent farmer where she dishes on living the authentic country life. She also hosts a yearly summer-long series and contest called KinderGARDENS that is aimed at instilling the love of gardening to the next generation believing that dirty hands make for healthy happy kids!


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  1. Nice tips you got there. I like the idea of the plastic cover but I’m thinking of those UV plastic that can control heat. It is more expensive than the usual plastic but definitely protect the plants from excessive heat and as well as from insects.

  2. Garden pests are very irritating and it does so many dis beauty in our gardens. Thanks for your post. I really wanted to avoid pests in my garden. Surely these pests will not come again into my garden and ruins its beauty.

  3. I live in an apartment and have potted plants on my porch. I have a problem with aphids (i think thats what they are). I don’t have lots of the problems you listed but I can’t exactly “hose off” my plants seeing as they are upstairs.

    I have found that a great solution to killing these little bugs is rubbing alcohol, dish soap and water. Put it in a spray bottle and spray it on. You should probably wash it off so I would suggest spraying at night and washing off in the morning. A great non-chemically way to kill bugs.

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