Here in Colorado, the general rule of thumb is not to plant outdoor flowers or veggies until Mother’s Day, because well, we could get a blizzard. This leads to many people starting vegetable gardens in the home and moving them outside. Before you move your plants to the backyard, here are five tips and tricks for keeping bugs out of your garden.
We have some beautiful birds in Colorado, and they can be attracted to your yard all year round. Keeping a bird bath and feeder can help attract some colorful and very helpful visitors to your yard. Birds eat everything from ticks to Japanese beetles, which have grown in population along the Front Range for over 100 years. Not a native to the United States, the Japanese Beetle has few predators, you being one of them. Some people like to get chickens to help eat bugs in the garden. Chickens may eat your vegetable garden though, so beware. Also be sure to check your local regulations regarding chickens. Roosters for example, are not allowed in Colorado Springs city limits.
Most people know that while annoying, not all bugs are “bad.” Spiders for example help catch and rid our home of several bad bugs, but that doesn’t mean you want to invite Charlotte and her many children (spiders can have up to 4,000 babies in their lifetime, check out our article on weird mating habits) to your home. Ladybugs are a great friend to your garden, and who can argue at their cuteness level. Ladybugs and praying mantis love to eat aphids and the larva of other garden pests. Aphids are one of our biggest pests in the garden. Many garden nurseries sell ladybug colonies.
Plant Garlic & Onion
Garlic not only keeps the vampires at bay, but it also helps out your garden. Planting onion and garlic in between plants that are loved by pests will help keep them away. We have several burrowing pests in the Pikes Peak Region, like voles and the pocket gopher. Planting a circle of these smelly crops around fruit trees will help keep these pests away as well. Not only is garlic and onion beneficial to your garden, but also adds a tasty addition to your garden. A fun side note, birds do not have taste buds but squirrels do. Help keep squirrels out of your bird food by utilizing hot peppers. The “heat” in peppers is caused by capsaicin and only mammals feel the heat.
Plant Flowers & Herbs
Some beneficial plants to add to your garden that aren’t garlic and onion include petunias, catnip, and rosemary. You can plant the lovely petunia flowers near potatoes and beans. These pretty annual flowers keep the Colorado Potato Beetle away. As you’d imagine, these small striped beetles enjoy eating potato plants but they also enjoy eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes to name a few. Catnip helps keep away aphids. This can, however, attract stray cats in the neighborhood. Lastly, rosemary is a great herb to plant in your garden. Rosemary repels a wide variety of pests including moths, beetles, carrot flies, and even deer.
Warmer weather is on its way, so why not grab the kids and go on a nighttime hunt. This can be a fun family bonding activity and a chance to teach your kids about the ecosystem of your garden. We have an abundance of grasshoppers in Colorado, and they tend to lay more eggs when we are in drought conditions. Scientists are predicting a dry few weeks, if not a dry summer, which means a greater number of these hoppy pests. Grasshoppers can eat half their body weight a day, leading to a bare garden very quickly. For example, make a game of it, who can capture the greater number of grasshoppers, or the largest and smallest. If you have any scaly pets, grasshoppers could be a free meal for them, otherwise you can drop the found bugs in soapy water.
Catching bugs not your thing? Consider adding a bat house to your yard. You can build your own or buy one. Bats are nature’s pest control, consuming thousands of bugs every night. When adding a bat house to your property, we suggest not attaching it to a tree or to your home. Placing the bat house on your home could be an invitation to your attic. They should be about 10-15 feet off the ground on a pole. Here are the instructions for building one.
Now that you know some great ways to keeping bugs out of your garden, go get planting! May your thumb be green, and your crops full and delicious!
As always, we are here for all your pest control needs. Contact us here.