Ants! Please help

jonnygreenwoodApril 12, 2010

Hey everybody,

So this is my first year gardening, and my two 4'x4' beds are doing really, really well with the SFG system.

But, I've got an ant problem. Two of my squares--one containing cabbage and the other kale--have a lot of ants in them. The ants are tiny and black, and I can observe them crawling up and down the base of the stem, down around the root system. As far as I can tell, it looks like they've chewed away part of the stem at the very bottom, especially where it goes underground. One of the kale has already wilted and died.

I've tried sprinkling peppermint oil around the base of the plants; baking soda; flour; cayenne pepper...I've planted some marigolds and mint plants around my beds...but nothing seems to be phasing them, and soon I think the plants will be dead. I'm also obviously worried about them spreading to other parts of the containers. I've searched all around the garden but can't find any ant hills, either.

Can someone who's had this same problem give me another pest control recommendation? I've done everything organic thus far, and I don't want to use any kind of dangerous chemical pesticides or anything like that. I've seen people mention using Borax, but if their nest is underneath the plants (which presumably it is?), then wouldn't they carry the Borax down into my soil?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Dan Staley

Very common question on this board. Do a search and sift through the ~8,249 different remedies provided and choose the two dozen or so that appeal to your sensibilities.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 2:00PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

I have the tiny black ants all over the yard, but I agree that its no fun to garden with them if they are too many in one place.

The only ant deterrent that has ever worked for me is boric acid. It's not supposed to be harmful to mammals in the small doses needed to do a number on the ant colony. You can either buy ant baits that say they have boric acid in them, or mix up your own with boric acid and sugar. You can get boric acid at the drug store. It's used as an antiseptic and anti-fungal treatment.

Lois in PA

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 11:48PM
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Try a layer of used coffee grounds on the bed. It is supposed to repel ants. Even if it doesn't work, what are you out - it doesn't cost you anything and it is good for the soil anyway.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 11:37AM
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Perfect! I had ants pop up in the crack of my sidewalk. I had spent coffee grounds so I tried it.

Nothing. The ants didn't even stop. they just climbed up on top of the coffee grounds and kept on going. I tried a circle of grounds to trap them and see if they would just stay in the circle. Nope. They came and went over the coffee grounds at will.

I guess I have debunked the coffee grounds for ants theory. Maybe I have the wrong kind of ants.

Or the wrong kind of coffee?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 11:35AM
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