The items I will describe below can be useful against a variety of garden dangers. Obviously, nothing is foolproof against everything that could bother your plants, but these strategies can help you defend against the usual suspects.
Defend against uninvited furry and feathered garden guests
Clothes baskets – I use clothes baskets over all kinds of plants to protect them against birds, deer, squirrels, and the like. Fortunately, our local Dollar Tree carries these so I bought a stack of about a dozen. As a bonus, these fit perfectly (and snugly!) inside of my 10-gallon grow bags! (Sometimes the brand of grow bags I purchased are out of stock, but their measurements are 17″ w x 12″ h.)
Wire trash cans – These were another Dollar Tree find. Ideal for smaller plants, I used these over my young sweet potato vines when I first planted them in an unfenced area of my yard. I was determined to keep deer from eating them and it worked! Now I’m using them over some newly planted seeds to protect them from birds swooping in and picking them out of the ground.
Wildlife netting – Sometimes you just need to cover a larger area, or perhaps bushes or plants that are too big for the clothes or trash baskets. I use wildlife netting similar to this propped up on stakes to protect newly planted rows of corn. I also use it over my blackberry bushes and as a makeshift gate for one of my garden areas.
Neem Oil – I had never heard of using this before until I learned about it from Gary Pilarchik’s The Rusted Garden channel on YouTube. The peppermint oil tip below is from him, as well. Both oils will need to be emulsified with a little bit of simple (not with lots of additives) dish soap to get them suspended water so they can be sprayed on plants. The neem oil is a substance that will help defend against squash bugs, cabbage loopers, white flies and the like. Basically any chewing insects will consume the oil and it will kill them. Meanwhile, it is harmless to the pollinating insects since they aren’t chewing on the plants. It’s very important to only use 100% cold pressed neem oil, not a neem oil spray or hydrophobic extract of neem.
Peppermint Oil – Peppermint essential oil (not extract!) emulsified in water and sprayed on pruned squash, for example, will mask the smell that the squash emits when it is “injured” and make it less attractive to would-be pests. The same scent can be sprayed on anything in the garden as a sort of fragrant camouflage to defend against chewing insects.
Watch The Rusted Garden’s video below to learn how to use neem oil and peppermint oil (as well as some other helpful recipes!) to defend against chewing insects on your plants.