Why do I need to scrub the grubs from my garden, you might ask? Well, let me tell you why. They feed on vegetation, i.e. grass and plants, and can completely ruin your lawn or garden. Grubs are the larval stage of different beetle species. They are white, C-shaped bugs that resemble caterpillars. If you’re not sure you have a grub problem, one thing to look for is dead patches in your lawn. Grubs may be eating through the roots of the grass. If you see dead patches, dig down just a few inches and you might find grubs. The presence of moles in your yard is another sign of a potential grub problem. Moles love to eat grubs, so if you start seeing mole hills or tunnels on your property, you can bet they’re hunting grubs.
Fall is the ideal time for grub control for yards, but for gardens, it’s a matter of preference and circumstance. Some people are still working in their gardens into the fall and, along with harvesting and canning, are just too busy. In this case, it may be easier to wait for spring. I personally find that I’m more enthusiastic about spring yard care after so many cold days. Based on the photo chart above, right now (March/April) is ideal for spring application. My recommendation; treat your garden before planting seeds or starter plants. Wait one week, then dig down in a few spots to check for grubs. A second application might be needed.
Now for the how-to. Below are three organic options I’ve found.
- Milky Spore and nematodes
Milky Spore is a brand of bacteria powder that can be applied to grass and plants. Adult beetles ingest the bacteria, and they remain in the new eggs the beetles lay underground. The bacteria multiply and cause a condition called milky disease that stops the grubs’ growth and kills them. Gardening web sites sell Milky Spore and similar products but do a little research before choosing this method. It’s definitely all natural and organic, but extra knowledge, work, and money is required to go this route. You could also try introducing beneficial nematodes into your yard. Nematodes are microscopic organisms that infest grubs and devour them. They’re also sold online by various gardening sites, or you can look in the Home & Garden sections of hardware stores or big box stores.
- 1 Cup all natural mouthwash (such as Uncle Tom’s)
- 1 Cup dish soap (preferably plant-based such as ECOS)
- 2 Cups organic lemon juice
- 1 Cup water
Put all the ingredients in a sprayer and water your garden, or wait until after a gentle rain and then saturate the garden area.
- 8 Cups water
- 2 TBSP Borax
- 1 TBSP dish soap (preferably plant-based such as ECOS)
- 2 Cloves organic garlic
- 1 Medium organic yellow onion
- 1 Whole organic hot pepper
Bring water to boil in a pot. Remove from heat, cool to lukewarm, and pour into a 3-quart glass jar. Whisk in Borax and dish soap. Then crush the garlic and add it to the water. Next, cut the onion in half and place it in the water along with the hot pepper. Close the lid and let the contents steep overnight in a cool place. Strain the liquid into a bowl or pot and discard the veggies, or add them to your compost. Refill the jar with the strained liquid, cover, label, and refrigerate. This solution is a concentrate. Use 3 TBSP of concentrate to 2 cups water in a spray bottle. For a large sprayer, use 1 1/2 cups per gallon. Water your yard or garden, or wait until after a gentle rain and saturate the area.
I’m sure there are more options out there, so do some research of your own if you have a chance. I found other DIY recipes, but they weren’t what I’d define as organic. For example, some included beer, soda, and tobacco as ingredients. I haven’t tried any of these, so I can’t personally testify as to how well they work. I’ll use Option 3 this year since I have a large garden and a large yard that needs spot treatment. This option works best for me. Find what works best for you. Let the gardening begin!