Makin’ Habaneros – Part XII – Pests
There is nothing worse than spending all that time nurturing your little babies only to have them attacked by pests the second you get them out doors. Here are a few tips for dealing with various common pests.
Diggers include squirrels, cats, dogs etc. Last summer I had all my plants in 5 gallon containers on my deck. Immediately after putting them out there, the squirrels in the neighborhood started digging in the new loose soil. I lost one plant immediately, the buggers managed to split the stem of the plant right at the base I had to do something quick. I read online that the easiest way to stop this is by simply covering the soil around the stems with pea gravel. I think anything with sharp nails hates scratching them in stone, it isn’t worth the effort to them. It stopped them cold, never had a problem again all summer long, at least with the digging.
White Flies and Aphids
These are the real enemy of the pepper plant. These little bugs sit under the leaves and slowly kill the plant off. You will find a pepper plant that is being attacked by aphids will drop flowers, and just stop growing all together, it will begin to wilt and start dropping leaves. I check weekly to make sure I don’t have any and if I do find some I take care of it right away. Here is how to get rid of this pest;
Mix 1-2 tbsp of dish soap into a spray bottle of water. Spray the underside of each leaf, this washes the bugs away, it works really, really well.
Another way to discourage white-flies or aphids from coming near your plant is to plant marigolds around your pepper plant. Apparently white-flies and aphids don’t like something in the marigolds and it will help deter them.
If you notice that something has been nibbling at your leaves there are a few usual suspects that you can look at. One is the slug. The slug is stoppable in one of two ways. First, take a half can of beer and bury the can in the ground around your plants leaving only the top lip and opening exposed, the slug will be more interested in the beer than your plants. Change the beer can every week and be warned, rotting slugs smell awful.
You can also deter slugs by purchasing some copper mesh from a garden center and placing it in a long tube like fashion around the parameter of your garden. Slugs can’t stand copper!
Another common form of nibbler is the one that is eating your peppers. Honestly the easiest way to stop animals from eating your peppers is to give them something else to eat. Feed the squirrels, rabbits and whatever else you have and they will stay away from your peppers. It sounds silly but when all else fails, it could be your last hope. Squirrels, raccoons, birds, you name it all love corn on the cob. You can buy squirrel feeders that are nothing more than a board with a nail sticking up the middle that you attach to a tree, simply put a cob of corn on the nail. Change it regularly.
Hope this helps and you all have a great summer and a great crop! It has been a pleasure writing these articles.