AdviceDIY

East Bay Unwrapped: How Does Your Garden Grow?

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Yah, snail, yah!

Since you read my post from last week, you now have your garden plot all planned out for Spring. Kale here, beans there, and plenty of sunshine. The conditions are perfect for a happy, healthy garden!

OR ARE THEY?

Lurking in your back yard are some very destructive critters just waiting to munch on your veggies before you get to taste them. In this sister post, I will identify those creatures and tell you what you can do to combat their annoying behaviors. Man, nature sucks sometimes.

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1. Slugs/snails: These dudes are pretty much the biggest threat to the livelihood of your plants. They eat everything in sight (unless they’re too slow to reach it), and it’s next to impossible to get rid of them all. The best way to thwart their attacks on your sprouts is to salt the hell out of them! No, no, don’t do that. That’s mean (and harmful to your soil). Immediately after you plant your saplings, line the garden plot with copper tape. Why? When a snail comes in contact with copper, it creates a reaction in their slimy little bodies similar to an electric shock. Therefore, they won’t go near the stuff. Talk about the Green Mile (womp womp). Another great product is diatomaceous earth, which sounds scary, but it’s really just finely-ground algae rock particles. If you sprinkle a little bit around the base of your plants, the snails will have a hard time moving across it, because it acts like tiny shards of glass. Brutal! However, the best way to manage them early in the season is to become a snail vigilante and pick them off of your plants every night. Then, if you toss them outside of your copper-lined garden, they won’t be able come back in. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

Even dudes in the 1800s were "teazed" by earwigs!

2. Earwigs: Ugh, this is my very least favorite pest based on its name alone. Plus it’s pincers are menacing and can issue a serious pinching. But guess what? Diatomaceous earth also destroys earwigs, so you can kill two bugs with one stone! Literally! Another tried and true method is to curl up a wet newspaper and leave it in the garden overnight. In the morning, you should have a full occupancy at the Earwig Motel. Carefully lift the newspaper and toss it in the trash. These things are vile.

3. Aphids: Don’t let these minuscule buglets deceive you; aphids can do serious damage in large numbers. They gather on the leaves of tomato plants and slowly cause “tomato blight,” which will eventually kill your ‘matoes if you don’t manage them properly. The best way to keep the aphids under control is to spray the leaves with a light dish soap and water solution every few days. The dish soap will damage the aphid’s wax-like coating and cause them to dehydrate. And here’s a fun fact: the ahpid’s natural predator is the ladybug. That’s right, the ladybug is a predator.

4. Squirrels: This “pest” is hard to hate, because it’s so cute. Don’t agree? I defy you to stifle your squeals when you get a load of this. Still, it’s hard to maintain such affection for them when they’re tearing up your garden. They particularly enjoy buying their little squirrel things in potted plants. And then, of course, they forget it’s there, and you’re left with the mess. No one wins. In order to prevent such occurrences, simply sprinkle some chili powder around the base of the plant. It’s organic, harmless to humans, and relatively harmless to squirrels (unless the squirrel prefers spicy foods). Keep your camera handy, because if they sniff too much of the powder, they might launch into an adorable sneeze attack with tiny “achoos.” Aww.

A startlingly accurate depiction.

5. Cats: Nothing much you can do about these guys. They love to lay in exposed soil and crush your young plants. I presume it reminds them of their filthy little shitter boxes. You could ask them kindly to please move, but cats aren’t known for their compliance or consideration.

Although some of the pest management products I mentioned cost a small sum of money, they will save you from heartbreak and the cost of new saplings in the end. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of something really awesome.

Thanks to Orange Apple Banana, Wikimedia, and CyBeRGaTa for the pics.

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Mia Di Pasquale - Scroungy Scribbler

Mia Di Pasquale - Scroungy Scribbler

Mia is a nice Italian girl from an exotic Italian colony called New Jersey.  She studied English Literature and Screenwriting at Drexel University in Philadelphia and has no intention of ever being a teacher.  Instead, she produces low-budget films with her crew/friends, one of which actually won a contest hosted by AMC and judged by Mr. Robert (Rob) Zombie.  She currently lives and loves in beautiful Oakland, California, which, she maintains, is just as great as and even sunnier than San Francisco.