How to keep bugs away from your plants

Bugs seem to love plants in metal raised garden beds as much as you do, and they can be tough to deal with. There are many very effective chemical repellents, but they can be toxic to pets and curious children. So how do we prevent unwanted creepy reptiles from building houses or dining on our favorite plants without using potentially dangerous chemicals?

The best way to keep bugs from eating plants on metal raised garden beds is to keep them from touching your plants. Here are some ways to keep insects out:

1. Soil toppings: Many species of bugs don't actually live in the leaves of plants, but instead build their nests in the rich soil of garden beds. Placing a barrier on the soil is a very effective preventive measure. Sandy soils or cinnamon mixed into the top layer are good options, but the soils that have been tested the most are mixed with microscopic marine fossils. While this may sound fancy and expensive, diatomaceous earth is a relatively inexpensive powder that is used by grain silos around the world to accomplish what we intend to do. Tiny food-grade particles can tear apart the protective coating of many insects, preventing them from retaining water. It won't harm you, your kids, or your pets, so don't hesitate to gently brush your plants and soil with it to keep insects out. Remember that you will need to reapply it to the soil after watering.

2. Sticky Traps: A personal choice for spiders everywhere, sticky traps are an inexpensive and non-toxic way to reduce the risk of infection.

These simple traps come in a variety of designs and can be hung or placed strategically near plants to form a protective barrier. If you're concerned about flying insects like fungal mosquitoes, mealworms, or aphids, try these.

2. Physical barriers: While not a permanent solution, sometimes simply moving plants can buy you some extra time to prepare for your next line of attack. Once ants are detected, move the plants indoors or place them in raised pots, which can confuse their navigation when they go to pick up friends.

4. Make your own chemical-free pesticides: People have been looking for some natural solutions to keep bugs from destroying plants in their metal-raised garden beds for generations. Let's take a look at other effective and safe ways to prevent pesky pests: soap and water, liquid soap diluted into a simple spray, and a tablespoon or two in a large spray bottle will work well against bugs. Essential oils, orange, peppermint, clove, and lavender smell great and make a great repellent, but they may not get rid of existing pests. Lavender oil works slightly better on ants. If you're looking for a convenient and pleasing scent preventive measure, it wouldn't hurt to try these. Non-essential oils, garlic, onion and cottonseed oils may not be olfactory rock stars, but they have been shown to be very effective at deterring insects and spiders. They degrade fairly quickly on plants, so unless you want to keep vampires out too, it's best to skip these.

So you have so many best solutions for bugs, and none of them involve harsh chemical pesticides. You can always hunt down critters on a metal raised garden bed in your patio with tweezers, a soapy cloth, or a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, but we hope one of these natural remedies will solve your problem in an easy way.