Protecting Your Square Foot Garden From Unwanted Bugs and Pests

Bugs and pests can make short work of a square foot garden if they are not attended to on a regular basis. Follow these tips to find pesticide-free solutions to keep your smaller-size garden free of pests.

Companion Planting

Since many plants have chemical substances in their leaves, roots or flowers that naturally ward off or attract insects, why not make use of them in a square foot garden as companion plants? Using these plants as borders, backdrop or interplanting in the garden according to needs helps balance the garden’s ecosystem. Use native plants to attract beneficial insects. Experts in bug- and pest-free gardening recommend open-cup flowers as the most appropriate to attract beneficial insects.

Some examples include:

  • Plant basil with tomatoes – also good with peppers, asparagus, arugula and oregano. Basil helps repel thrips, flies and mosquitoes. But do not plant near sage.
  • Borage is a good companion plant for tomatoes, squash, strawberries and other plants as it keeps away hornworms and cabbage worms. It also helps neighboring plants develop disease resistance.
  • Radishes planted with cucumber help deter cucumber beetles.
  • Garlic is beneficial to cucumbers, peas, lettuce, carrots and celery and deters coddling moths, Japanese beetle, root maggots, snails, carrot root fly and aphids.
  • Place geraniums in the square foot garden to help deter cabbage worms and Japanese beetles. Plant around roses, grapes, corn, tomatoes, peppers and cabbage, but be aware it is a carrier of curly top virus.
  • Petunias help repel certain types of aphids, leafhoppers, tomato worms and asparagus beetle, general garden pests and Mexican bean beetles. Plant anywhere in the square foot garden, but especially near tomatoes.

Keep Your Square Foot Garden Pesticide Free

Organic gardening involves no use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides. Check out organic pest control to easily identify the type of pest, any beneficial plants to use as companions, and organic pest control methods to employ.

Here are just a few plant-specific methods to keep a square foot garden pesticide free.  

  • Aphids (for corn leaf, cabbage, melon)—Ladybugs are one beneficial insect solution. Organic solutions include garlic barrier, neem oil, hot pepper wax, and horticultural and dormant oil.
  • Tomato blight—Use liquid copper or copper dust as organic solutions.
  • Grubs—Apply garlic barrier, Japanese beetle killer or milky spore as organic solutions. Use beneficial nematodes as an insect solution.
  • Leaf spot (on strawberries, corn)—Apply organic sulphur plant fungicide, bonide remedy or copper dust.
  • Powdery mildew (on roses, tomatoes and grapes)—Use lime sulphur spray, copper dust, sulphur plant fungicide or bonide remedy.
  • Rabbits and squirrels—Keep them away with Deer-off, hot pepper wax or shakeaway. In addition, wire-mesh cages or fencing can deter rabbits.

Other tips to keep your square foot garden pesticide fee include weeding and pruning regularly, as destructive insects flock to decaying and dying leaves and branches. Insert hybrid plants that are bred to resist predators. Apply mulch around plants to help them retain moisture and nutrients and produce stronger plants.

Careful and regular attention to a square foot garden following these tips can help ensure a bug- and pest-free crop.