Although I don’t live a strict organic lifestyle, I do try to keep my garden chemical free. I am always looking for simple solutions to keep my small garden pest free. And by pests I mean everything from slugs to squirrels to my neighbor’s pesky cat. Through some research and trial error, here is a list of solutions I’ve found that have worked for me.
1. Egg shells: If you have a problem with slugs, egg shells just might be the solution. Coarsely grind the shells – I just put them in a baggie and crush them with a rolling pin – and spread them around the infected area. Gardeners’ wisdom suggests that the shells act like ground glass and cut the tender underbellies of slugs. Even if it doesn’t work on your slugs, the shells will compost into your soil adding nutrients. You really can’t go wrong trying this simple solution.
2. Coffee grounds: As with egg shells, coffee grounds supposedly act as a slug deterrent. I’ve read that they don’t like caffeine, which is a poison, and kills them. I don’t use old grounds for this purpose, however. I use them to add nitrogen to the soil around my tomatoes. If it helps keep slugs away, I’m all for it. Since I don’t drink coffee, I keep a big Ziplock bag at work and empty the hopper in the coffee pot in our break room every day. At the end of the week, I have just enough grounds to put a ring around the base of my tomato plants. Last year I had so many tomatoes I couldn’t eat them fast enough. I’m not sure if it was a result of the coffee grounds, but I don’t think I’ll stop adding them to my little garden spot any time soon!
3. Citrus: My neighbor has a number of cats who like my yard because of the bunnies and birds who have moved in. Her big orange tomcat is pretty vicious when it comes to baby animals so I want to keep him as far from my yard as possible. Since he likes to hang out watching for opportunities to attack babies, he has taken to using my raised garden bed as a litter box. I spent money on a dog-and-cat-be-gone product but couldn’t put it around my vegetables. I tried creating a perimeter around the bed, but that didn’t seem to deter him much. Overall it was a big waste of money. I went to a more natural solution that seems to be working. Cats don’t like strong odors and citrus tops the list. Scatter citrus peels around your garden bed and hopefully the neighborhood cats will stay away. A bonus is that I think it smells great. And like the other solutions, the peels will naturally compost into your soil.
4. Cinnamon: Like citrus small animals don’t seem to like cinnamon. For my cat issue, I just sprinkle cinnamon where he walks. He gets it on his paws and it acts as an irritant, but is not harmful. After a thorough rain or watering, just reapply.
5. Ground red pepper: You can also use cayenne or chipotle. This acts just like cinnamon, irritating small animals, but doesn’t cause harm. Just sprinkle around the area you’re trying to protect. Reapply as needed.
I’ve tried all of these solutions with pretty good results. I hope that if you are having trouble with critters in your garden space, you give these a try. It will save you money, keep your harvest chemical free and healthy, and not harm your neighbor’s cat. Can’t go wrong with that!