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Jul 13, 2009 01:07 PM

Ants in our Organic Garden

I am the Chair of our Community Garden in San Diego. Many of our plots that have chard is being attacked by ants. Does anyone have an organic suggestion to rid the garden of ants?


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  1. There's no reason that I can think of why ants would go for chard. More likely, the chard has an aphid infestation, and that's what's drawing the ants. (The ants feed on the sugary "honeydew" that the aphids secrete.)

    Check for aphids. If (when) you find them, go after them with a garlic or soap spray. Apply daily until they're gone.

    1. Agreed that the ants, themselves, aren't feeding on the chard.

      When ants are the problem, they can be eliminated by a bait trap set with Ant Terro or their multi-insect "green" bait made with boron. The ants take it back to the colony and it eventually kills the colony off. However, most species of ants cure more problems than they cause and I would avoid trying to eradicate them.

      3 Replies
      1. re: weezycom

        Is the boron organic. The added problem is that the gardeners cant take the chard home because they are covered in ants, the ants will get all over the cars and kitchens in transport.

        Thanks for the advice.

        1. re: normalheightsfoodie

          Boron is "organic" in that it's natural, but it's also pretty toxic. That's why it's used to kill bugs!

          I agree with weezycom that you shouldn't try to get *rid* of the ants. If the problem is in transport, repeatedly dunking a bunch of chard in a bucket full of water would help immensely. Maybe keep a communal bucket in your garden that all gardeners can access?

          1. re: normalheightsfoodie

            Lead's organic. Doesn't mean it's safe.

            As with many elements, many plants and animals require a small amount of boron to live; too much kills.

            Ants don't eat chard. If you have aphids, try blasting them off with water. You'll need to do this repeatedly.

            But the real answer is, if you want to go organic, stop expecting your food to look like the stuff at the grocery store.

        2. Whether the ants are going for chard or the aphids, a good way to get rid of them is Boric acid (as one poster said) or Diatomaceous (sp?) Earth, aka DE. Both of these are organic, but one should be careful not to breathe either one in. Skin contact is usually ok. You sprinkle it on the earth where their trail is, and basically it dries out the little ant bodies. It doesn't get rid of the nest though, so if you want that, I guess you would have to go with something else. We have ants (in our kitchen, so I was afraid to use some chemical), and so far this has helped us.

          1. I am having a similar problem with the ants swarming the base of the chard, not so much the rest of the plant. We did have a problem with a few aphids going after our beans, but since our aphid deterring flowers bloomed I have not seen any aphids. The areas of our garden playing host to the ants seem to be doing better than the rest of the garden. The chard leaves coming up seem to be much curlier than they should, but the leaf rot they had has disappeared. I think the ants may be devouring whatever it was in the soil that was causing the leaf rot on my chard. Anyway, the way I see it; no harm no foul. Let the ants be, as long as they are not actively eating your garden.