Common Garden Pests

a snail on a plant

Not all garden inhabitants are good. While some of them can be very beneficial, some are just plain parasites that harm your plants (and even you). To keep your garden safe and help it continuously thrive, every gardener must know how to avoid or remove these pests. But with the number of bugs, insects and other friendly creatures in a garden, it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate the good from the bad. Here are some common garden pests, how you can identify them, and how you can get rid of them in your garden

Aphids

One if the most common plant pest in the world with about 4000 different species. They favor feeding on new plant growth and feed by the cluster. They are small, soft bodied insects that can either be white, yellow, brown or green in color, depending on the species. They reproduce rapidly and when overpopulation occurs, some of these aphids develop wings (yikes!). Once they reach this level, they can be very harmful to the plant, stunting growth, reducing vigor and causing leaves to wilt, curl, and turn yellow. To control an aphid infestation, you can easily cut off heavily infested leaves and throw them away. For heavier infestations, you can try spraying botanical insecticides or introducing ladybugs in your garden. These ladybugs will feed and feed on your aphid colonies until none are left and the great thing about them is that you do not need to introduce harmful pesticides in your garden.

Blister Beetle

Not only do these beetles destroy crops and garden plants, they can be extremely toxic. When crushed, they secrete a blistering agent called catharidin, as the description suggests, contact with this fluid will destroy tissue. The secretion is so potent; it has been used in products for wart removal. This makes the Blister Beetle harmful to plants, humans and livestock that are near the infestation. When ingested, the catharidin toxin can damage the stomach lining and urinary tract, and can be lethal-even after dead bugs have dried out. the There are about 250 species of the Blister Beetle with varying size and color, and can sometimes be confused with the Asparagus Beetle, another garden pest. Most of these beetles are usually ½ to an inch long with long legs and antennae. Small infestations can be handled by hand picking, just be sure to wear protective gloves to avoid any injury. Put the beetles in a container with soapy water. For larger infestations, try adding diatomaceous earth around affected areas or a garden insect spray. Birds also play a good role in eliminating these beetles without the use of pesticides, invite birds in your garden by providing feed and water source.

Slugs and Snails

These slimy, creepy crawlers have earned quite a negative reputation for gardeners. Usually found in damp, shady areas, they lurk under rocks, heavily mulched, or shady areas in your garden. These nocturnal creatures while glide and slide along your garden, leaving a trail as they munch on seedlings, low hanging fruits and leafy vegetables and plants that they can reach. Handpicking can greatly reduce their numbers. You can also create a bait with shallow containers with beer. The yeast in the beer attracts them and will fall into the container and drown. Opting for rubber mulch instead of organic mulch will also lessen the dark, damp environment that slugs and snails love.

Termites

These wood munchers can create nests in the roots of your plants. While they mostly consume dead wood, some of them have been reported eat the plants and even crops like bell peppers. That and their nests nestling on your plant’s roots makes them vulnerable to other garden pests! Non chemical options include introducing beneficial nematodes in your garden. They seek out a wide range of garden pests including termites. Another alternative is to swap out organic mulch with rubber mulch to discourage termite infestation in your garden as they cannot feed on those.

 

There are many harmful pests that can grow and thrive in your garden. They will always find your garden as it begins to thrive or grow beautifully. The important part is taking precautions and learning to recognize the common culprits and nip their growth by the bud so that they do not create extensive damage.

 

Ten Great Water-Saving Gardening Ideas

picture of a dripping sink in a garden

In these times of drought, we all need to be smart about keeping our plants healthy – and not waste water at the same time. A thriving garden doesn’t require tons of water. It simply needs a smart gardener armed with practical ideas and frugal techniques.

 

To retain water, add compost to your soil

Organic composting helps amend your garden soil with nutrients so it can be fertile. It also traps moisture to help plants take root. Composting can be done even without an expensive bin. As an example, you can collect food scraps from your kitchen and take them straight into a compost pile.

 

Apply mulch to your soil

Mulch provides a protective layer that can prevent up to 70% of moisture from evaporating, especially on a hot day. After composting, apply an adequate layer of mulch to avoid water runoff. Mulching also keeps weeds from taking over precious soil space and vying for water and nutrients, which your growing plants badly need.

picture of brown rubber mulch

Have a strict AM and PM watering schedule

Keeping to a fixed routine can help you save water while optimizing root and plant growth. Gardens are best watered from early morning up until temperature begins to rise before noon because there is less evaporation then. If your plants are in pots and containers, they tend to dry out quickly so water them at noon and into the early afternoon.
Avoid watering at night – this can cause fungal growth because there is no sun to help evaporate excess moisture.

watering plants when there's sunlight

Know which plants to water at specific times

Of course, observing your plants for any sign of drought stress means you have to customize your watering schedule specifically around it. Knowing the types of plants and their developmental stages can also help you incrementally reduce watering. For instance, squash, melons, cucumbers, and other vine crops only need ample watering during their flowering and fruiting stages. Peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants also do not need excess watering as they love the heat, and tend to bear more fruit in warmer weather.

 peppers

Avoid “thirsty” plants

If you’re starting a garden from scratch, it’s wise to go for plants that don’t “guzzle” water and require a lot of maintenance. Low-maintenance plants like succulents are ideal because they thrive in drought-like conditions, such as in deserts. Go for small plants and those with narrow leaves instead (ferns are a good example).

If your garden already has established plants that are slow-growing, fret not because those don’t require a lot of watering, either. Thirsty plants include big-leafed ones, ones that need constant fertilizing, and those that grow at a rapid rate or are newly-planted.  

 

Save kitchen and fish tank water

After boiling vegetables, don’t throw away the water in your pot. Let it cool before using it to water your plants. There are added vitamins and minerals in this water that can help nourish your plants. The same goes for water from your fish tank- it’s rich in phosphorous and nitrogen that can aid plant growth.

water in a pot

Choose drought-tolerant plants

In times of drought, think small. This means the smaller the produce, the bigger its chance of surviving hot weather. Think miniature bell peppers, eggplants, cherry tomatoes, and other vegetables that are tiny yet rich in nutrients, and actually flourish in heat.

someone holding cherry tomatoes

Other tried-and-tested drought-resistant produce include okra, Swiss chard, legumes like chickpea, lima beans and cow beans, mature rhubarb, chiles, cantaloupe, and herbs such as rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, and lavender.

 

Collect rainwater in your garden

You can harvest water when it rains by using a plastic or metal barrel to collect roof runoff. You can place the barrel directly beneath a downspout so it collects most of the water and fills up quickly. Use a dipper to water the plants with, and keep the barrel covered to prevent insects and debris from getting into it. Doing these can significantly reduce your water bill, as opposed to relying on a garden hose for regular watering.

rain barrels collecting water

Select practical plant containers

The kind of pot or container you put your plant into can have a great effect on its growth and your gardening habits. Avoid metal containers because they will just take away the moisture from the soil in the container and create an overheated environment. Use them as decorative outer containers, instead.

 

Go for glazed pots. If you choose unglazed terra cotta ones, chances are the soil will dry faster in them because they’re porous. If you need to transplant seeds and starts outdoors, you buy coconut husk pots that decay when roots start taking hold, or biodegradable plant pots that allow you to bury them whole into the ground without replanting.

 

Group plants with similar water needs

In a drought, it’s no longer practical to plant in rows. It makes better sense to do block and grouped planting. The logic behind this is that the plants provide much-needed shade and nutrients for each other without competing for moisture and nourishment. A water-efficient garden layout can have blocks of similar-needs produce like cucumbers, squash, and zucchini – these vegetables require the same amount of watering. It may be tempting to add some cauliflower or broccoli into the mix, but as they need more room and are thirsty plants, they will create a problem with watering and nourishment.

 

Container Gardening for Dummies

 

gardening with containers

Container Gardening for Dummies

“Necessity is the mother of all invention”. With the rise of smaller spaces for urban dwellers, container gardening is probably one of the most creative alternative the modern gardener has come up with. It is flexible, portable, and can work with whatever space you have available. You can grow both ornamental and edible plants. One of the perks of container gardening include not having to do tedious preparations and weeding that the traditional garden calls for. Sounds interesting? Here are a few fail-safe suggestions on how to start and maintain your very own container garden:

flowers planted in containers

Tools for Your Garden

Since you will not be tilling the land and will not buse a lot of space, container gardening does not require a lot of tools. Most of the time, a trowel, a hand fork and some gloves will be all you need. When you get bigger plants that need pruning, this is when you’ll need a pair of sharp shears, for smaller plants that need trimming, a pair of sharp kitchen scissors can do the trick. You will also need potting mix. You need something that is already premixed instead of just soil as your plants will need all the nutrients it can get.

trowel for gardening

How to choose container garden pots

The fun part about container gardening is that it can be very affordable. You can use empty plastic bottles, you just need to poke holes in it for drainage. Or you can purchase specialty containers that can match your home’s interior design, your balcony or patio. Containers come in all shapes and sizes, what you need to put into consideration is the size of the plant as it grows and transfer to bigger pots when necessary.

How to choose your location

Sunlight is an important factor in gardening–even for container gardening. Find a suitable area in your home the gets an adequate amount of sunlight. The amount and strength of sunlight you can find available will determine what kind of plants can thrive in your environment. Spend a day in your home observing which areas get full afternoon sun, which ones get partial sun and areas with very little to none. If you find that you may have inadequate sunlight to properly grow plants, try looking into artificial light to substitute natural sunlight.

potted plants receiving sunlight

How to choose your plants

One of the most popular choices for container gardening are potted herbs. They’re compact, easy to grow, can be a good ornament to your kitchen, and are very aromatic..Some of the easiest herb to grow include basil, mint, rosemary, and thyme. Lettuces, tomatoes, and cucumbers are also a popular choice when you have a little more space to spare. It is also possible to grow dwarf varieties of trees such as apples, pear, and fig.

potted herbs

How to fertilize

As your plants are isolated from a big body of soil, your plants will need more consistent fertilizing. Start with a slow release fertilizer in your potting soil to ensure your plants are not starved. To complement this, you can add a fish emulsion or a diluted liquid fertilizer every few weeks. It is also wise to add a kind of mulch on top of your plants to prevent erosion.

Container gardening is not only for the urban gardener, it is also a good option when soil in your area can be problematic or have been exposed to diseases.  When in doubt, consult your local nursery or gardening shop on what seeds/seedlings they have available for your garden that can thrive in your area.