3 Tips to Keep Garden Pests Away

Here at the Gallatin River Lodge, we are fortunate to be located off the beaten path and nestled up along over 300 acres of conservation land. These wide open spaces are what give our guests a true taste of Big Sky country. With that, come many natural challenges to keep our kitchen garden producing at its peak. 

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Here are my Top 3 Pests, and how I tackle them here at the GRL.
1. Deer
First, deer can be a problem in any garden! They love to snack on our violas and lettuce. To keep them out of our kitchen garden, we installed an electric fence around the perimeter. The fence has a low voltage, just enough to give the deer a small buzz when they try to approach the garden. The buzz scares them off to where they don’t find it worth it to come into the garden. Since we installed the fence, our deer problem is almost nonexistent! Our backup plan for when the deer do venture into the garden is using deer resistant plants. I planted a border of marigolds to protect the crops that deer find the tastiest. Marigolds are known to be unpleasant to deer in taste and smell. The hope is that deer will stay clear of the marigolds, and therefore the crops nestled in the middle will stay untouched.

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2.Ground Squirrels or Prairie dogs
Ground squirrels may be the biggest threat we face in the kitchen garden. They create underground tunnels throughout the garden, munching on radishes, lettuce and flowers. There are many ways to deal with ground squirrels but one effective and humane way that we use, is solar sonic spikes. These solar sonic spikes are powered by the sun and need no batteries. The spikes emit a pulse throughout the ground every 30 seconds that irritates the ground squirrels, making them move elsewhere. Even though this method covers a large area, I find them to be most effective when used throughout the garden, especially in areas heavily hit.

Grasshoppers, aphids & black flees can do some serious damage if not kept in check. In the kitchen garden I use multiple methods to help keep them at bay.

Cayenne Soap Spray:
i.1 Tsp of cayenne pepper
ii.Squirt of castile soap
iii.Gallon of water
This homemade spray can be used directly on plants affected by aphids or black flees. Be cautious to dilute the solution enough, otherwise you run the risk of burning the plant. I suggest testing it on a small part of the plant first. I get the best success if I apply it twice a week.

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Integrating flowers into the mix
There are many benefits of planting flowers alongside crops in the garden, one being that flowers bring in beneficial insects.  My favorite flowers to add are borage, marigolds, calendula and bachelor buttons. Beneficial insects such as hoverflies and ladybugs eat harmful insects. Some flowers help deter harmful insects as well such as marigold and calendula.  

(Diatomaceous Earth) is fossilized algae. When applied to soil where insects are a problem, DT breaks down the exoskeleton of the insect. DT is safe to eat and is commonly used in grain storage.

Overall, nature has its way of balancing out. I try to use humane methods and create a healthy environment to bring in beneficial insects to do the hard work for me! Trial and error will give you the results in your garden. I hope this gives you some ideas on how to combat the pests in your own.

Happy Harvesting!
Brianna – Kitchen Garden Manager