Friday, May 29, 2009

Bye Bye Ants!

Ants are sometimes garden pests. Otherwise, they are quite interesting to watch. The ants are very thorough in their work and are mentioned in the Bible as examples of diligence. A problem of being so industrious is that they are persistent in destroying the garden too!

Yesterday, I was working in my garden, and I was wondering why a bush bean plant was not coming up. I had planted older seeds, but all the others plants had sprouted and grown. Next to the spot where there was no seedling, there was a bean plant that was "stuck" in the dirt. So, I carefully removed the dirt where there was no seedling. I was expecting to find an unsprouted seed. Instead, I discovered a mushy little bean plant with ants crawling all over it! I dug around some more and found their colony. Ants were running all over the bean plant that was next to the colony. I eliminated a few ants, but many still existed. I needed to protect my plants!

I came inside and looked in my gardening books, but they only mentioned ants twice with barely any information to get rid of them. They classified them as garden pests. I agree with the pest part! I really did not want to use a pesticide to kill them. Momma did some research for me to find out how to destroy the ants organically. I got busy studying.

Some plants keep ants away. The options I found for plants that ants dislike were pennyroyal, mint, onions and garlic. I did not have any spare plants or room for them, so that was not a choice.

I could have used cucumber peels nearby the plants since ants do not appreciate them either. With having Kathie, our lab, that might have been just a little bit too tempting for her to enjoy a cucumber peel snack in my garden. You can also use lemon juice to keep ants away. I might try that later...

After all of my studying on organic pest control for ants, I ended up using a mixture of cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Cayenne pepper is good to sprinkle around the ant hills to rid a garden of them. Since they dislike garlic, I added that too. I sprinkled the mixture on the ground around the area with the beans. I placed some coffee grounds over top of the spicy concoction to hold it down. Coffee grounds also help to keep them away. I will post on coffee grounds' benefits for a garden later.

Do you have any organic suggestions to rid gardens of pests, especially ants?

Update: It is Saturday, the day after the experiment, and the ants are gone! Hopefully, they are gone for good. I added a little more of my garlic powder and cayenne pepper just to be safe. I also added more coffee grounds. The concoction does work, and if you have ants, you might want to give it a try!


  1. I have to say that your writing is excellent, Anna! I am loving reading your blog. :) You had me very interested in your fascinating story of protecting your garden from ants.

    I hope the solution you tried works! I don't know any other suggestions, but I know the cayenne/garlic is supposed to be great for other insects/animal pests as well.

  2. That's awesome that the solution works outside! I am using a recipe for inside ants that I found, and was wondering about outdoor/garden ants.

  3. A little bit of organic cornmeal sprinkled around the base of seedlings helps get rid of cutworms. We sometimes have ants in our garden too. They are pretty annoying.

  4. did you use fresh coffee grounds or post brewed grounds

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I used post-brewed grounds as they are already saturated with water. I normally water the area where I put the grounds immediately after spreading the coffee grounds out. This helps the coffee scent to soak into the soil.

      Another option you may want to try is to pour old watered-down coffee around the affected plants. It won't hurt the plants. It would help keep the ants away and the scent would also seep quickly through the soil.

      You may want to look at my post on coffee grounds here as it has some other tips:
      Coffee Grounds and Coffee Tea

      I hope this helps you!