I am strawbale gardening this year for the first time. Additionally I have just moved to a new house and so, have new "pests" that I haven't even determined yet. I planted a variety of beans and ALL the pole beans are gone. Chewed off at the stems. We have never seen bunnies, the bush beans are fine and I don't suspect moles or anything like that especially since the strawbales keep them about a foot and a half off the ground.
Some type of unknown/unseen bug is eating my squash leaves. I have a strange tiny yellow dot fungus on my basil.
I would like to garden organically since we have a 6 month old son who will be eating most of this stuff. I DON'T want to feed the neighborhood pests (whoever they are) in the name of keeping things organic.
Can anyone make any suggestions about home remedies I can use? Are there any tried and true "chemicals" that I could use that are less harmful than others? Any advice would be great. Thanks
You might have sowbugs eating your beans, although it's odd that only the pole beans were affected. Diatomaceous earth will stop sowbugs but be careful not to breathe it when you're applying it. There are also lots of organic methods of dealing with pests and diseases; check with catalogues like Gardens Alive and Gardeners Supply for examples. If the substance is OMRI listed it's considered safe for organic production. A lot of people also swear by mixtures of garlic and red pepper blended with a little soap and a lot of water, and sprayed onto the plants.
A (very) few things I know that will sort of help, here in Houston, so they might help you too, since our climates are similar:
Marigolds are your friend. Big time. Like as in, put them near everything you can. Marigolds drive off a LOT of pests, and the bees love them, so it's a win/win all around. Plus apparently they don't die until they die off for the winter. I had marigolds that survived the drought last year - and a couple of them came back to life this spring!
Urea in its natural or dried state is a good thing for many varmints. We have squirrels in the city here, and they are annoying and offensive. I had one that stole a strawberry, took only two bites out of it, and then set the remainder down on the wood of the garden beds so that I would see that he was unhappy. They curse and swear too (at least that's what it sounds like). I found that putting some form of urea near the stuff they want to eat helps quite a bit. My husband would... well... you know.. "treat" the ground near the gardens and I got tomatoes last year - even with squirrels in the trees.
Ladybugs can be bought at the store and they will eat as many aphids and small pests as they possibly can. I'm buying a pound of them for the gardens this weekend and with any luck, enough will stay to keep my gardens relatively pest free.
Borage and thyme will also drive off buggies, but not to the levels of the marigolds. On the other hand, bees will ricochet off of other things to get to the borage, so it's all good.
You can keep most birds away with some flittery stuff. For me, I created 'flags' by getting a mylar curtain - you know, like you might see a magician come through, with all the mylar fringe? - and cutting it into four inch areas and posting them wherever there was something the birds might like. It's apparently enough to even keep the grackles away, and I bet you would have them too! They seem to be ubiquitous in the south, here.
Your beans might have been taken by birds, perhaps? Before the mylar flags were installed, I often saw birds near my beans (although I never lost a crop like that), so they may be your culprit?
I hate to be all negative, but I know from experience that I had to show a neighbor the garden so that she could keep her kids out of the yard. The previous owners of the house had had a swingset and stuff in the back that the little kids were used to using, so going out to find strange kids in the yard was odd. They were nice, and cool, and I "bribed" the mom for having her kids stay away by giving cucumbers when they were growing in. Perhaps there is something going on there? Just a thought.
Thanks Hastur! Good advice...I am going to plant marigolds everywhere. I like them enough anyway. I just planted my 4th round of beans and I have treated them all with herbicidal oil. I don't know how organic it is, but it seemed to be the best idea. Now I have fungus...This garden is going to kill me. I have black dots on all the bales and it is spreading to my lawn. any ideas what it could be. Perhaps I should share this with the strawbale gardening forum too...
Hi! I'm not sure about your big pests, but I recently made an insecticidal soap spray, buffed up with essential oils, that is really working well to protect my strawberries and so far my swiss chard (which were the only things being eaten so far!) There are a lot of essential oil recipes around the web, but most are specific to certain pests and I tried to make one that was a little less picky about which bugs it targeted. You can find my recipe at: http://thornesworld.com/2012/06/20/quit-buggin-me/
(along with an insect repellant body spray recipe!) I hope this helps!