I have been incredibly busy these past few weeks and have a lot of updates to share!
By early June (about the 8th) I finally finished my Four gardens in the yard. Along with my vegetable garden, I created a herb garden, a flower garden (both in the backyard) and also created an Italian garden (vegetables, herbs and flowers combined) in the front yard. I was hoping to do more of the flower beds elsewhere in the yard, but ran out of steam and funds.
I hate to admit it but keeping up with my three gardens in the backyard has almost pushed me over the edge.
I have been plagued with Slugs and other bugs eating and stripping my plants. I set beer traps (the staff at the nursery gave me instructions) and I ended up using a bio friendly pesticide as a last resort, also thanks to a friends advice, a few drops of Ivory liquid dish soap with water in a spray bottle has helped as well. Finally after almost three weeks, I am making progress. I have lost some plants sadly, basil, green peppers, lemon balm, bee balm, spearmint and numerous herbs and annuals. Luckily I’m managing to save 65% of my plants so far, but this is still struggle.
Setting cups in the soil, 1/4 inch above the soil, 1/2 filled with beer saved my vegetables from Slugs!!!! These things are the ugliest living creatures I have ever seen!
Bonide products have helped, I got one for insects, Bon-Neem, it is also a Miticide and Fungicide and the Repels-All to deter the critters.
I also had problems with baby squirrels and chipmunks wrestling and trashing plants in the vegetable garden. Kept breaking off my pepper plants and trampling the lettuce, etc, luckily they had no interest in eating them. Had to place sticks around plants to protect them, also wove fabric softener strips in the low part of the fence, they don’t like the smell (I removed them before rain, and replaced after). This helped some.
I cut bounce fabric sheets into strips and wove them in the low area of my garden fence. This helped deter some of the critters. They don’t like the smell. Just don’t leave them out to get wet in the rain, can contaminate the soil.
Incredibly, an abandoned kitty showed up the week after the playing craziness started, and we kept her as a guest until we could find her a good home. (I’m really allergic to cats so we could not keep her unfortunately) She did a great job cutting down their population and chasing them off. She now has a good home and will be visiting with us from time to time to help out with these little guys! So far they are playing somewhere else and I have not had to use fabric sheets again.
Kitty, our visiting friend, helped with the chipmunk and squirrel issues. We found her a nice home. She will be visiting us on occasion to help keep control of the critters!
Next, my neighbors new chickens (11 of them who were not bothered by Kitty) were let loose a couple of days, two and a half weeks back, they began digging and demolished part of my flower and herb garden looking for bugs. Ripped the plants clear out of the ground…by the time I got home from work, the roots had burned in the sun and I lost quite a few….never knew chickens could be so destructive! Had to ask the family to please keep them penned up….when they were at my bird feeders it was not a problem, but once they attacked the beds, it was the first place they headed when they visited, it became a nightmare. I spent an entire weekend reworking both gardens, planting a few new flowers so the beds would not look so empty…also had to replace a good portion of the mulch. I cried through most of that weekend….I was so discouraged.
The chickens first hung around my feeders with the other birds, but after a few visits, went straight for my flower beds!!! I never imagined they could be this destructive to a garden while looking for bugs.
Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, the woodchuck and bunnies started eating my flowers I planted specifically for the butterflies and humming birds. (Phlox , Super Bells, Butterfly Bush, Petunias) Our visiting Kitty helped some, but only when she was outside, couldn’t leave her out all day as we have a few foxes that started showing up in the yard because of the neighbors chickens. I started using the animal repellant, I need to spray it every other night, rotating between the plants so the scent stays strongly present, it is helping luckily. Some of these beautiful plants are beyond the edge of returning, but I am happy to share a few are coming back, (Perennials mostly).
The wood chuck really did a number on my pink and white phlox, they are trying to come back. The Repels-All has helped thankfully. Not sure they will survive and come back next year. Poor things are almost naked!!!!
I also installed a low white fence around my flower and herb garden in the back, this has helped to keep the critters from trampling through and has also minimized grazing. It also stopped the chickens, when they got out again by accident last week. I almost had a heart attack when I got home from work and saw them at the bird feeders, but luckily they did not attack the beds. I herded them home….
This inexpensive white wire fence has also helped. Amazingly, it helps deters the chickens and critters. They have to work to get at the beds, don’t think this appeals to them. You can see some of my flowers have been chewed pretty bad. I really hope they make it!
I have to tell you all this yard has proven to be more difficult with pests than any yard I have had before. I knew it would be work, but I never would have imagined it would be like this!!!! My poor boyfriend and family think I’m possessed, but they don’t understand what it is to have a gardener’s love of cultivating plants……Luckily, I know most of you reading this do and can relate to my frustration.
I have learned so much about pest control, sadly wish I did not have to lose so much through the process. Hard not to get discouraged when the money, time and effort you invest is being attacked by every living creature in your yard.
The funny part of this is my front yard is doing wonderful, no fence, minimal repellent use and it is growing really well! I am so grateful to have one area that I can feast my eyes upon with joy!!!!
As for the rest, I have declared War in my backyard, and going to do it diligently and as bio-friendly as I can….if any of you have any suggestions that would help, particularly with the insects, I would be more than happy and appreciative to hear them! A girl needs all the help she can get! This is going to be a very busy summer for me!!
I hope to update you all again soon,
Happy gardening and keep noodling!