Pest Control Strategies

Just Food has now gathered information from a Master Gardener, online resources, an experienced garden workshop facilitator, and gardeners to create a list of strategies to help limit the impact of pests in your gardens. We start with smaller critters and thereafter discuss larger animals.

Insects and other small critters

There are many insects that can positively and negatively impact your garden.

Just Food partnered with Rob Danforth, an experienced gardener and a long-time workshop coordinator with us, on a recorded workshop that addressed many of the common insect problems that can occur in your gardens.

This video discusses topics such as plants that attract helpful insects, insect management sprays, and how to manage a variety of insects such as Flea Beetles and Japanese Beetles.

Access Rob’s workshop at

If you grow in a community garden setting, be sure to communicate to other gardeners and report pest sightings through your garden coordinators, Facebook groups or group emails to inform other gardeners so they can be on the lookout.

Cutworms are identified as particularly challenging, as they are often not seen. Cutworms can kill your plants by eating their leaves and severing their stems which stops them from being able to grow.

Rob spends some time in his video talking about cutworms at the 47:45 timestamp, but these few tips can get you started as well:

  • Making ‘plant collars’ on the base of your plant around the stem out of cardboard
  • Routinely checking the leaves on your plants for any areas that are eaten 
  • Placing yellow sticky traps next to the stem to trap them and other insects


Cutworms can easily spread from garden to garden, so it is important that other gardeners are aware of the problem so they can keep an eye out too.



Squirrels can be found just about anywhere in the Ottawa region. While they are known for targeting bird feeders, they will also eat the fruits and vegetables from your plants as well.

Some of the most common recommendations that Just Food has received to keep squirrels away are:

  • Spraying the urine of its natural predators around your garden, such as fox urine
  • Sprinkling blood meal around the soil of your garden
  • Putting some netting over your plants, similar to bird netting for berry bushes
  • Planting nasturtiums, marigolds, and mustard around the border of your garden


Raccoons are animals that are intelligent and very resourceful in their search for food sources.

After consulting a Master Gardener and members of the community garden network the two most effective strategies that can be used to keep them out of your garden are:

  • Scattering blood meal around the base of your plants
  • Burying dog hair or human hair at the base of your plants to scare the raccoons


It is important to note that the hair should be replaced often, especially after rainfall, as rain will wash away the human or dog scent.

Dog hair can be easily accessed through your local pet groomer so that it can be put to good use.



Rats are some of the most common urban pests, and being omnivores, they will occasionally use your garden as a source of food.

With COVID-19 causing a loss in many of food sources for rats, they are resorting to other methods to eat, some methods to slow them down and keep them away from your garden are:

  • Planting onions or leeks in between your other plants, rats dislike their smell
  • Planting strong smelling herbs around your plants, rats dislike the smell as well
  • Keeping the area around your plots as clean as possible
  • Keeping compost in a secure container



This animal has been the most reported pest at the gardens and can cause significant damage to your plants if they are not dealt with.

The most effective ways to help discourage a groundhog from using your garden to eat are:

  • Sprinkling blood meal around the perimeter of your garden
  • Placing objects doused in urine of dogs or foxes around the garden
  • Eliminating woods piles around the garden and other areas where a groundhog may nest


If a groundhog has created a burrow near your garden some steps that can be taken to drive it out and keep it away from the burrow are:

  • Pouring male, fox, or dog urine down the burrow to flush it out
  • Creating a physical barrier, such as chicken wire around the entrance to the burrow
  • Putting up chicken wire around the nearby gardens to discourage it from returning 


If there are any pests you believe we left out, please send an email to

Thank you for your contribution!

We thank Master Gardener for verifying strategies and outlining the most effective methods. They can be reached at for any of your gardening questions.

Just Food would also like to thank all the gardeners for providing hands-on experience and expertise to allow us to build this list and target the pests that impact food gardens the most.

Here is a special thanks to Rob, who shared his knowledge and time-tested strategies on managing garden critters!


Start-up Farm Program

Just Food established the Start-Up Farm Program to support new farmers in the Ottawa region. By offering access to land, shared infrastructure/equipment, and training, the program aims to enable more people in this region to start their own successful farm business.

> Read More about Just Food’s Start-up Farm program