Learn how to detect and solve problems with pests in your garden.
Credit: Photo: Oxmoor House

Pests are part of gardening and take many forms: mildew that disfigures your cucumber foliage, tomato hornworms eating every leaf from your plant, or deer feasting on blueberries. Solutions vary, too, from chemicals that require careful and knowledgeable application to traps that simply capture the problem.

One of the most common problems is the havoc hungry wildlife can wreak on your garden. Birds peck ripening fruit, opening them to invasion by bacteria and ants. To keep them at bay, drape small and medium-sized fruiting plants with bird netting, use fake snakes and owls to scare them away, hang reflective tape on the plant, or simply plant enough to share with them. Remember, some birds damage fruit, while others eat the caterpillars that are eating your plants.

Deer can also be troublesome, eating fruit and foliage and trampling your hard work. Where there is consistent damage, try repellents or use motion-activated sprinklers and lights to keep them away. If those fail, consider installing a deer fence to protect your produce.

Keep in mind that any chemical used in the garden should be considered carefully before applying since it will also affect the fruit, vegetables, and herbs you’re growing and could harm the bees that pollinate the flowers. General insecticides also harm beneficial insects that deter or rid your garden of troublesome ones. There are many solutions, from organic to homemade to commercial tried-and-true. Please consult your garden center or Cooperative Extension office for guidance.