Saturday, February 4, 2012

Organic gardening: dealing with pests

Oh, the theory! How great to grow your veggies without pesticides and other nasty chemicals. The reality is tougher, though. How the heck do you do to grow your veggies without pesticides? I take my hat off to organic farmers everywhere. After all the work you've put into growing your own food (remember the building of the compost bin, the collecting of the organic waste, the caring for the health of your composting pile, and the  planting of the fragile green beings?) there comes a bunch of ants, or worms, or any other little critter and has a wonderful dinner at your expense. Not cool.

I already had had a few encounters of that sort during previous attempts at gardening: a wandering deer had enjoyed dining on most of my garden, a boundary-challenged fellow farmer had included (by mistake, I’m sure) my broccoli into his harvest, and a family of bright green worms had become fat on my arugula. While it was too late to do anything about the deer or the farmer when I found out about my missing plants, I took a zen approach to the worm infestation and gained back my arugula by picking every single one of the worms by hand. Although it was an excellent activity as an exercise in meditation, it didn’t do much to guarantee I could put food on my table. The worms were so well camouflaged, that by the time I found and disposed of them, I had only about 50% of the original arugula left.

Observing a cute bunny in our garden one day.
This time around it wasn’t the deer, the neighbors or the worms. We woke one morning to find one of our plants completely leaf-less. We had run into an anthill while preparing our herb garden, so we thought they must have been the ants. Next day, another plant was gone: no leaves whatsoever. But no traces of ants around.

The next morning, at dawn, we discovered the culprit: a hare frolicking around, munching here and there, having the breakfast buffet of its life. I had seen it a few days before and had thought Oh! How cute!

This time, though, visions of Elmer J. Fudd (remember the grumpy guy from Bugs Bunny?) were the first thing to come to  mind.

Spying on a hideous hungry beast the next.
Dark thoughts

Yet, we decided to take a less drastic, more pacific approach to protecting our food.
First attempt to deter frolicking bunnies from stealing our food.

At least, for now.


  1. would dogs help keep the rabbits out? Your garden looks very nice

  2. @ lakristinita: Good idea, thanks for the suggestion. They would probably help keeping the hares away, but would also scare away all the lovely birds we have around (the area it's kind of a bird sanctuary) and maybe some of the other wildlife. Plus I don't think the owners of the land are keen to have dogs. Dogs are already a problem in the area because people come for holidays during summer and bring or get a dog and then leave them, abandoning them for the winter. They form packs and can get aggressive - to the point that it can get tricky to walk or bike on some streets. Something to deal with...

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  4. This is such a wise strategy, thanks for sharing!