Keeping Rats Out of the Garden

Roof ratSometimes rats and mice can discover paradise near humans. Container gardens, especially those with birdfeeders, can invite these little rodents. Our job as balcony container gardeners is to be stewards to nature, so natural remedies for ridding ourselves of unwanted creatures are always better than traps and poisons. Here are some hints that you may have a rat neighbor and some ways to drive that neighbor away.

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The Benefits of Attracting Birds

Wild bird sparrowBalcony birdwatching is a rewarding hobby, and it gives you an excuse to stare out the window at your balcony garden. Wild birds will eventually become so used to you that they will learn your habits and wait for you to fill up the birdfeeder. Some may be brave enough to feed or hang out on the balcony while you’re working in on your garden's container plants. If you have a tree just beyond the balcony, you may be rewarded with seeing courting rituals (maybe you will even see a nest), hearing beautiful calls at all hours of the day and spotting beautiful new species visiting your feeder.

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Ants: A Garden Pest

Pest garden antsAnts can spark a debate with gardeners. Some will say that they’re harmless and that they’ll actually help pollinate your flowers. But other gardeners have had definite problems with these little insects.

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How to Attract White-Crowned Sparrows

White-crowned sparrow

Intro: White-crowned sparrows look similar to house sparrows, but they have a prominent white and black stripe on the head. The rest of their bodies are gray or light brown, and they have an orange-yellow beak. These wild birds are much less common at bird feeders than house sparrows, but they may visit your balcony garden when hungry in the winter. They eat insects, including caterpillars and beetles, in the summer, and mainly eat birdseed during the winter. White-crowned sparrows from different regions have slightly different colors, and because their songs are learned, there are also regional song dialects. There are several white-crowned sparrow subspecies.

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Zygiella x-notata Spider

Spider webGenerally spiders are good for a garden, as they normally catch unwanted garden pests and eat them. So expect to encounter some spiders (and, consequently, spider webs) in the balcony garden. Some spiders are dangerous, such as the black widow spider, so if you're squeamish, scared or curious about the spiders that may visit your balcony container garden, try to identify the spiders you see, and research if they are beneficial or harmful.

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