One of the constant battles that a gardener must face is the battle against garden pests. Garden pests range from insects such as thrips, caterpillars and beetles to larger animals such as squirrels, rabbits and rats. All garden pests are in search of food. A garden filled with vegetables makes a temping treat to pests. But you can repel or remove pests from your garden with a combination of traps and cultural practices.
Remove weeds, garden refuse and vegetation from the rows between vegetables and around plants. Garden pests use this vegetation for shelter or cover. By removing this potential habitat from your garden, you can eliminate the number of pests that are tempted to stay. Plow between rows with a rototiller to remove weeds and break up the soil. Doing so creates an environment where grubs cannot live and destroys burrows of moles, voles and rats.
Mix an insecticidal soap with water using a hose-end applicator. Bathe each of your plants in a blast of insecticidal soap from the hose. The insecticidal soap will blast insects such as aphids or scale bugs off of your plants and will kill or discourage many of them from returning.
Hand-pick pests such as beetles, caterpillars and slugs from plants such as lettuce or tomatoes. Throw these insects into a bucket of water and insecticidal soap to kill them.
Place traps around your garden to trap insects and pests or kill them. Rats and mice will be killed by snap traps or glue boards. Fleas and slugs can be killed with a lid filled with soapy water. Live traps work for squirrels, rabbits and raccoons. Always take animals trapped by live traps far away for release so that they will not return to your garden. Peanut butter, cheese or corn makes a good bait for all of these traps. Bait the trap but do not set it initially. Once pests are used to the trap as a source of food, set the trap to catch or kill garden pests.
Release beneficial insects such as ladybugs or lacewings into your garden. Beneficial insects prey on harmful bugs such as thrips, cutworms and mealybugs.