photo credit creative commons license mollenborg
I have posted here about my garden before although I usually write about it here.
I am really into growing my own vegetables and of course it is important to me that they are organic. I do my best to improve the soil, companion plant, crop rotate and plant flowers and other plants that attract pollinators and beneficial insects, and so far so good except for one tiny but plentiful thorn in my side – or in other words the infestation of ants my garden is suffering from.
Every garden has its ants, since they are part of the eco-system I don’t really mind them. Unfortunately, Both my neighbors feel differently about ants, and are not into gardening, organic or otherwise, so come spring, they spray their houses and yards against ants and other pests, turning our garden into the ant haven of the neighborhood.
Up until this point I have been very good about tolerating the ants, although I do swear and curse at them as I see more and more buildings being created in ant city, all of them stemming from the initial colony and popping up all over the garden.
The most annoying thing is that their colony is under the spot where I planted the cucumbers and then the beans, and I have a fleeting suspicion that the ants, although for the most part harmless to the plants host other critters and taxi them around the garden, making them responsible for all kind of side effects like cucumber mosaic and other diseases that seem to hit the plants in that bed.
Twice daily, when I go to my compost box, I find myself shaking my fist at the annoying little critters, threatening to introduce chemicals into my garden to rid myself of them, but just can’t seem to do it, which is why I set out to find and effective way to rid my garden of ants without poisoning my food.
I have heard of all sorts of things that ants don’t like, cinnamon and cloves for example, but somehow, the ants in these parts have no problem at all with either of these, and walk straight through them on their way into my house, so I didn’t even bother to try that in the garden.
The funniest remedy I came across in my research over and over again was the fact that ants don’t like cucumbers, and that cucumber peels make a good barrier, keeping ants at bay (need I remind you that the main colony in my garden is right under the spot where my cucumbers grew?)
Out of all the research I have done there are two methods I would like to try:
The first, which I will probably skip for the outside but try inside, is mixing 1 liter water, one cup sugar and one teaspoon of borax into a solution. After soaking cotton balls in the solution, place them in a closed container with holes in the lid (so the ants can enter) the ants are supposed to return to their colonies with the solution which will slowly kill them off.
The other solution that I really liked (here I go, thinking like a manic killer) is diatomic earth which to the best of my understanding is a fine dust with particles that are abrasive and damaging to the insects outer shell. In other words, the insects (in my case ants) crawl over it, injuring their little bodies, causing them to die of dehydration within 48 hours.
Cruel but perfect since the only ones to suffer from this necessary evil will be the ants.
I do intend to try both these methods, and will report on their success.
In the meantime, here are a few sources for DIY organic pest control, for house and garden:
Earth easy’s Natural Insect Pest Control http://eartheasy.com/live_natpest_control.htm
Mother Earth News Organic Pest Control: Whar Works, What Doesn’t http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/organic-pest-control-zm0z11zsto.aspx
Planet Natural Home Remedies for pest control http://www.planetnatural.com/site/xdpy/kb/natural-pest-controls.html