Many people are interested in eliminating the use of chemicals and pesticides in their gardens. We just don’t want our families and pets exposed to so many potentially hazardous toxins anymore. So, this brings up the question, “How do I control insects that can destroy my crops without the use of chemicals?”

Who knew that the answer could be “more insects”? Many insects prey on the ones that eat our vegetables. To attract these insects to your garden, you will need to grow plants that attract the predatory insects. For example, ladybugs eat aphids. When trying to attract ladybugs to your garden, plant dill or Queen Anne’s lace. Pirate bugs also eat aphids. You can provide a habitat and food source for them by planting sunflowers near your garden. Parsley attracts bugs that prey on moths, beetles and flies.

Another option is to grow plants that repel insects. For your own comfort, you may decide to plant marigolds, catnip or citronella grass to repel mosquitoes. Marigolds are also effective at repelling many different plant-eating insects. Garlic repels many common pests, such as Japanese beetles, aphids and other beetles that can destroy a vegetable garden.

Insects are not the only pests that you may need to control. Rabbits are a big problem in many areas of the United States. You can put up a fence, but make sure that it is buried a few inches in the ground. Rabbits can squeeze or dig under fences fairly easily. They are less likely to climb into built-up box gardens. Just to be safe, there are a few natural ways to repel rabbits.

Rabbits love clover more than anything. If there is clover around, they will not go near vegetables. So, forget about keeping your lawn manicured and free of clover and it just may control your rabbit problem. If you don’t have clover around, you may want to try another method. Some gardeners have reported success by using hot sauce or red pepper around the garden or even around each plant. Some use vinegar. To use vinegar, soak mulch in it for about an hour and spread it around your garden. The only problem with this is that the vinegar will wear off after a few days of watering, rain or sun exposure. Some people have even used the hair from their brushes or clippings from a salon to deter rabbits. I say, if it’s natural and doesn’t hurt your garden, your family or the rabbits, it’s worth a try.

Taking care of your garden can be a joyful experience. Knowing that you are giving your family the healthiest veggies around is just an added bonus. Keep your garden nice by using a garden hose reel for your water hose. Hopefully you will get to enjoy your vegetables more than the rabbits or insects will.

By: Stacy Pessoney

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