Our tiny urban garden has plenty of common garden pests, but not the ones you expect. We attract a level of “common garden pests” that suburban and rural gardeners probably never see. Sure they have deer, but we have raccoons, possums and rats.
We also have people. That’s so annoying.
Diatomaceous earth isn’t going to bother the frat boys who decide to take a leak in my garden. Dogs barrel right past scarecrows or those shiny anti-bird mylar strips. So we had to get creative. Here’s a list of common garden pests in city backyards, and our successful organic methods for fighting them.
Our little garden backs up to an alleyway and doesn’t have a fence. And although there is a leash law in the city, few people pay attention to that. The neighbors across the alley turn their dog out to come use the bathrooom in our gravel driveway. Another neighbor has a friendly yellow lab who just likes to lumber through the backyard and smell all the things. And oops, maybe step on a few.
Solution: Preventive measures can make a real difference in pest control! When we put in the garden we knew this might be a problem, so we designed it with raised beds and cold frames. The dogs wander through the back, but fortunately they don’t hop up into the beds.
Maybe it was possums, or rats. We’ve seen them all walking along the tall fence in the backyard. Something marauded our tomatoes one night, pulling them off the plants and taking a single bite before tossing them aside. Several on the vine had scratches cut through them. Clearly somebody was feasting.
Solution: Our compost bin is only a few feet away from the tomato bed, so we decided to tempt the invaders with something better. For a few weeks we dumped our kitchen compost pail every night instead of every few days. It actually worked – the morning after the compost was pawed over, and the tomatoes hung untouched. We haven’t had a problem since.
I mentioned our garden abuts an alley. Apparently the alley is pretty well traveled at night because we’ve had plenty of visitors. They’ve taken lovely parting gifts with them. We’ve lost several tomato cages. Once we woke up to find half our compost dirt gone.
Solution: We really need to install one of those motion sensor lights. The super bright kind that blinds invaders. Maybe connect it to an automatic recording of someone yelling with a bullhorn. All that is on the garden “to do” list.
Perhaps suburban people have this problem as well. Our wires snake from the alley to the house, right past the backyard patio. I say “buried” but they pretty much lie on the hard-packed dirt surface with a sprinkling of sand on top.
Solution: The wires and the hard-packed dirt were more reasons to put in raised beds. Where we saw actual surface wires we put in a paver walkway over them with mulch around it.
Yes, the frat boys and their girlfriends living next door really did piss in our garden. We found out later that they hadn’t paid their utility bill and the water was shut off. So for a few weeks the spot behind our garden shed became their toilet, complete with little wads of used paper.
Solution: Tell them to cut it out. If they keep doing it then call the landlord and have those boys evicted.
City living requires getting creative when it comes to common garden pests. Keep a few tricks up your sleeve for these and other weird pests likely to come your way.