Raised Bed Gardening: Pest Management
How to protect your raised beds from pests? Harmful pests and insects can be prevented before they become a problem. Remember, healthy soil is not only the secret weapon to have a beautiful and thriving garden.
From our previous blog, we learned different soil mixes to ensure high yield from raised bed gardening. Good and healthy soil needs to be created and it is important that you know various soil recipes for raised beds. Same thing with pests. You need to identify the most common and destructive pests in your garden and make sure that your plants are protected from this nuisance.
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With a smaller, contained space for gardening, it’s easy to keep pests away in a raised garden bed! Here are tips that’ll help keep pesky critters and invasive plants away from your precious crops in a raised garden bed.
Common Garden Pests
- Squash bugs
- Squash vine borers
- Japanese beetles
- Tomato hornworms
- Slugs and snails
- Flea beetles
- Codling moth
- Vine weevil
- Leaf miners
Of all garden pests, slugs and aphids are the most common. But these could be remedied easily by keeping a sharp eye for them. Squash bugs and squash vine borers eat any type of squash so planting resistant varieties of squash are one way of deterring these pests. Japanese beetles are prevalent but easy to spot. The same goes for tomato hornworms and cutworms.
Deterring Pests on Raised Garden Beds
Raised beds won’t deter pests magically. No structure or product would wipe out pests entirely and permanently. However, the elevated design of a raised bed makes plants accessible, so maintaining the plants becomes much more manageable! Here are gardening tips to eradicate pesky pests:
Check for Infestation: The best way to deal with pests is to monitor your raised bed gardens for infestation. Always check under the leaves for insect eggs and destroy them before they hatch. Deadhead or pinch off diseased plants or leaves. During your regular inspection, look out for discolored or damaged leaves.
Proper Mulching: Proper mulching minimizes the risk of infestation. If insect pests see that the environment is not ideal to live in, they’ll move elsewhere. Using cedar and cypress bark as mulch, for example, helps repel different kinds of nibbling insects. However, note that some wood mulch could attract destructive bugs like carpenter ants, earwigs, roaches, and termites, so not all types of wood should be used as mulch for the garden. The cedar and cypress bark contains oils and chemicals that naturally deter pests. Cedar and cypress mulch also take a long time to break down, so you don’t need to replace them as often.
Bring in Some Recruits: A smart defense against pests makes them the prey of predatory yet garden-friendly critters! Growing certain plants will attract beneficial insects like lady beetles, lacewings, praying mantis, and predatory wasps. Lady beetles feast on aphids while lacewings will feed on caterpillars and aphids. Praying mantis loves moths, beetles, and flies, while parasitic wasps will wreck pests' eggs! Ground beetles, lizards, and toads love slugs of most kinds.
Proper Watering: You need to water your plants regularly to keep them healthy but watch out for excessive moisture. Appropriate watering is essential but avoid standing water at all cost because this will attract different pests and diseases.
Companion Planting: Growing complementing plants side by side crops helps stave off pests. Dill, fennel, coriander, yarrow, basil, catnip, citronella, mint, and lemongrass are known natural deterrents for common garden pests, including stubborn aphids and potato beetles. As an added bonus, most of these aromatic plants can attract predatory insects, which will further strengthen your garden’s defense against pests!
Diatomaceous Earth: Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from the fossilized remains of aquatic organisms called diatoms. It’s eco-friendly and non-toxic, so it’s used to deter garden pests. The powder is quite coarse, and when insects come in contact with diatomaceous earth, their exoskeleton is damaged, and they’ll dehydrate to death. Simply sprinkle an even layer of diatomaceous earth on top of the soil to keep nasty pests away from your crops.
Install Physical Barriers: Physical barriers like plant covers, row covers, fabric covers help protect the plants from harsh weather conditions and pests. Remove the covers only when the crops are flowering, so pollinating insects could get access to the blooms.
Try Intercropping: Planting the same plant next to each other makes the crops vulnerable to pests. Mixing different plants across the area will make it difficult for pests to get to the plants they want to eat.
Homemade Insecticide: Some of the most potent pest deterrents are found in the kitchen. Garlic, neem oil, vegetable oil, chili pepper powder, baking soda, biodegradable dish soap, and essential oils are just some of the many natural ingredients that you can use to eliminate pests in your garden. Simply mix an appropriate amount of the natural pest deterrent with water in a spray bottle then spritz away!
As you can see, there are so many techniques to deter pests and avoid chemical pesticides. Chemical pesticides do not discriminate; the products will kill beneficial critters and pests alike. It will be a lot healthier for you, the crops, and the environment to go the all-natural route.
More on Controlling Pests in Your Raised Garden Beds
While growing crops in a raised bed will do wonders as far as keeping pests away from your plants, destructive critters have a way of infiltrating every garden if you’re not maintaining your garden often enough.
Carefully check your garden for pests as often as possible and remove any pest you see by hand. Don't use chemical insecticides because the chemicals will kill beneficial creatures and pests alike. Also, the chemicals could leach into the soil and end up on your plate!
Watering has to be done carefully to avoid standing water. Pests love wet soil, particularly centipedes, earwigs, silverfish, and roaches. Water only when the soil is dry to the touch, use well-draining soil, and perhaps, install an irrigation system to control the moisture.
Being creative in terms of the arrangement of the crops, giving intercropping a try, or learning more about companion planting will also make your garden less vulnerable to nibbling and burrowing pests.
Have you tried using raised bed planters before? It’s one of our favorite ways to control pests and grow healthy crops all season long! No need to build raised beds from scratch, we have fully assembled raised beds in different designs, including the classic elevated and tiered raised garden bed. Shop now and start growing your own raised bed garden.
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