Category Archives: Gardens & Gardening

Keeping Rats Out of Your Compost

compost bins rat control

Introduction

People are embracing the use of compost bins to recycle household waste and use them in the garden. Compost bins facilitate faster decomposition of organic matter through moisture retention and proper aeration to produce organic fertilizer. They are a great way of getting rid of household organic waste and ensuring that your garden is fertile. However, they attract rats that may be hard to eliminate.

Tips to keep rats out of your compost

When using a compost bin, chances of dealing with rats are high. Rats look for food and shelter and a compost bin caters for both needs. Therefore, you can experience a serious rat problem if you are not careful. Below are tips to keep rats out of your compost.

Bury food wastes

Rats are attracted to compost because they are a source of food. Therefore, when adding food waste, you should dig in and deposit the waste inside. Cover the food scraps and add a few inches of leaves or grass clippings to layer on top of the food.

Avoid adding food waste

If rats become a real problem, stop adding food waste in the compost. Instead, set up a vermicomposting food waste bin. Alternatively, you can bury the food wastes in the garden directly.

Use a solid sided bin

Food waste and vegetable peelings should go in closed composts that have solid sides and lids. There are some plastic types that have a rat-proof base. If you go for one that does not have a rat-proof base, place it on a tiny gaped wire mesh. Moreover, the wire mesh should be thick enough to withstand the sharp rodent teeth.

Keep the compost moist

Rats look for shelter and food in your compost. A dry compost is an ideal shelter for rats and inefficient for making organic fertilizer. A moist compost pile results in an unpleasant odor and anaerobic conditions that rats cannot put up with.

Plant mint near your compost

Rats hate the scent of mint. Therefore, if you plant mint close to your compost, it may deter rats. However, this only works if the rat population is not high.

Use Bokashi

Bokashi makes food unappealing to rats. Bokashi ferments food wastes to produce a funny odor that puts off even the hungriest rat. Put the food waste in a bucket and layer it with Bokashi bran. After two weeks, add it to your compost. It will decompose faster and keep rats away.

Conclusion

The rat problem can become uncontrollable. If the above tips fail, consider seeking assistance from a pest control company. For more information about getting rid of your rat problem visit westsidepestcontrol.com.

Winter Garden Preparation

Why get your garden winter ready? Winterizing your garden in fall is the way to ensure that come spring you will have less work and more time to enjoy the spring flowers. While plants and lawns do become dormant, they still need some pre-winter care and protection to make sure they are at their best in spring.

Get ready to winterize your garden!

Here are some simple winterizing tips and ideas that you can do this fall to make sure your garden is ready and prepared for the colder weather this winter.

Winter garden clean-up

  • Remove all the dead flowers and prune off any bushes or shrubs so that you won’t be caught in the spring when it may be too late to prune. (see our article on when to prune.)
  • Pull up any weeds, rake up fallen leaves and any other garden debris. Don’t leave piles of raked leaves sitting on your lawn over the winter as this will kill your grass! Except for some types of weeds, you can compost most of these materials.
  • If you have vegetable garden beds, turn the soil over with a gardening fork or spade then cover the dirt with a layer of leaves or grass clippings. This will act as a mulch and besides breaking down over winter to enrich your soil, it will prevent any hardy spring weeds from coming up when the ground warms a little.
  • Plant any spring flowering bulbs now, such as daffodils and tulips. Be sure to plant in clusters as this makes a nice show when they come up rather than a row of “soldiers”.
  • Some of your more tender plants and shrubs may need to be covered for winter if you live in a colder zone. You can cover the base of your plants with leaves or other mulch but if you expect a very cold freeze, try completely covering with burlap or potato sacks.
  • Finally, organize your garden fertilizers and tools. Don’t leave shovels and spades sitting all winter with dirt on them! Clean them off, sharpen them and store them undercover so that they won’t rust. Dispose of any old fertilizers or pesticides and make sure that any powders, crystals or granules are stored properly so that they won’t get damp over the winter.

Now your garden is winter ready!

Just a weekend of winter preparation can make a huge difference for your garden in spring. So before you go inside and shut the door on your garden for the season, make sure to winterize your yard properly.

Organic Gardening

Organic gardening is the best way to ensure that no harmful chemicals or substances have gone into the fruit and vegetables you grow. As well, gardening organically means that you are gardening in a way that is natural and environmentally responsible.

Is it possible to still have delicious, healthy, pest free fruits and vegetables from your garden if you don’t use commercial chemical based fertilizers and pest control products? With organic gardening: Absolutely!

What can I use to fertilize?

Making sure that you have healthy soil is a first step in organic gardening. Always rotate your crops so that the soil will not become depleted in one area of your vegetable garden. Then one of the best ways to build up your soil is to add in compost every year. Making your own organic compost is simple and it’s free! (see our article about composting) Adding well rotted manure to your soil is another great soil builder if you don’t have enough compost or have a really large garden. For more intense fertilizing you can purchase organic fertilizers such as fish fertilizers. These won’t burn your young plants and won’t cause damage as they drain away in the earth.

What about weed control?

Make sure that you put a mulch around your plants and vegetables. A layer of straw or even grass clippings one to two inches deep on the soil around your plants will keep down the growth of weeds, reduce water loss and benefit the soil as the material breaks down over the gardening season.

How can I get rid of harmful insects?

There are so many natural predators in your garden that chemical means are really unnecessary. Organic pest control uses beneficial insects like wasps, ladybugs and green lacewings who love to devour aphids and other harmful garden insects. If aphids are very thick, then you can simply spray them off with plain water, or try mixing a gallon of water and about a half teaspoon each of pure soap and vegetable oil to use as a spray.

Nematodes which are microscopic parasites, will destroy all kinds of soil dwelling grubs and larvae and benefit your lawn and root crops. You can even inject nematodes right into the stems of plants like pumpkins and squash to stop borers.

Where can I find these beneficial insects?

They are probably in your garden already if you know where to look. But we usually don’t have enough of these helpful organic organisms. You can build up your supply by purchasing these handy bugs from garden retailers. They are shipped to you live, along with instructions and you release them into your garden!

A word of caution: Don’t make the mistake my husband did when he thought we were being attacked by tiny alligator-like insects which he found all over our fence one day. After squashing the last of them, he looked them up in a book and discovered they were lady bug larvae and would have eaten thousands of aphids!

Learning ways for gardening organically in order to have a bountiful, safe and environmentally responsible crop can be a lot of fun and will benefit your garden and the environment now as well as for years to come.