Raised Bed Gardening Pest Management Solutions

Raised Bed Gardening Pest Management Solutions

I know pest felines can be in garden beds. My favorite deterrent is the livestock panel.

Livestock panels are cheap and I can easily cut them into the shape of my raised bed surface (or hang them an inch or two above the surface). I can also use them to space out my plants once I have them in bed. Plants grow through the panels, but cats can't scrape the surface around the panels.

Livestock panels are equally suitable for digging dogs and other large digging animals. I've even found that squirrels have far fewer problems when livestock boards are draped over the soil.

Gophers, moles and voles

These burrowing pests are best prevented during the raised bed construction phase. For this reason, the second part of this series covers this deterrence. In short - a properly installed hardware cloth before adding raised bed soil is your best bet.

Chipmunks, mice, rats, etc.

Any small pests that will attack your raised bed garden from above... well, if you find a good solution, I'd love to hear from you! These pesky critters are too nimble and versatile to offer a one-size-fits-all solution. They can climb, tunnel, jump—if they're faster than a speeding bullet, we'd all really be in trouble.

So seriously, share your solutions in the comments section below to reveal your best solution for aboveground rodent control.

fire ants

These little bugs can be formidable enemies in the garden. Now that black ants, your everyday garden variety, are no longer a problem, they are actually an important part of the soil food web. Let the black ants be - the same goes for pill bugs (aka roly-polies) while you're at it. These are your garden friends - not like fire ants.

If you've ever been bitten by a fire ant, you'll understand the searing pain and the pain that follows for days. Like bees, each colony has a queen—although some colonies have multiple queens. The only way to really eliminate a colony is to eliminate the queen (or queen).

The ants build large mounds, and the worker bees disperse from the mound to feed on the surrounding plants and animals. So, will they invade your garden? Of course they can. Fire ants love full sun and moist, soft soil—in other words, your ideal garden environment.

Fire ants are such a big problem and a "hot" topic that I'll cover them in more depth in a future podcast.

No doubt you have searched the internet for ways to eradicate or control fire ants. If so, you've been inundated with pages and pages of chemistry and nature advice. I'll cover what works and what doesn't in future podcasts.

Until then, here are two suggestions:

Pour boiling water over/over the mound. Also, boiling water must reach the queen to be effective, so multiple boils may be required to eventually kill the colony.

Natural orange oil has also been shown to be effective against fire ant colonies. Texas A&MAgriLifeExtension's Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Program confirmed through their research that 1.5 fl oz of orange oil and 3 fl oz of dish soap (they used Medina® Orange Oil and Dawn® exclusively in their research) soap), diluted in a gallon of water more effective than a leading organic pesticide product -- when a gallon of orange oil solution is poured over each mound.

There are various forms of organic and chemical pesticides that can effectively eliminate fire anthills from landscapes in the long and short term. I do not recommend using any pesticides - organic or inorganic - in raised bed soils. In general, boiling water and orange oil are safer, but may kill or severely damage any nearby plants.

In my many years of gardening in the southeastern United States, I have never had a fire ant problem in the garden or in the compost bin (another fire ant favorite). Why? I'm not so sure.

Some studies have shown that fire ants do not like soils with a lot of microbial activity. Guess what - my garden soil has rampant microbial activity. coincide? Honestly, I don't know, but it might be worth a try for you.

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