Raised Bed Gardening Pest Management Solutions
I know that cats are pests that can be in garden beds. My favorite deterrent is the livestock team.

Livestock panels are cheap, and I can easily cut them to shape a raised bed surface (or hang them an inch or two above the surface). I can also use them to space out my plants once I have them in the bed. Plants grow through the panels, but cats can't scratch the surfaces around the panels.

Livestock panels are also suitable for digging dogs and other large digging animals. I've even found that squirrels are far less of a problem when livestock sheets are mulched over the soil.

Gophers, moles and voles

These burrowing pests are best prevented during the raised bed construction phase. Therefore, the second part of this series introduces this deterrence. In short - installing the hardware cloth properly before adding raised bed soil is your best bet.

chipmunks, rats, rats, etc.

Any little pests that attack your raised bed garden from above... well, if you find a good solution, I'd love to hear from you! These pesky critters are too nimble and versatile to offer a one-size-fits-all solution. They can climb, tunnel, jump - if they're faster than a speeding bullet, we're in real trouble.

Seriously, please share your solutions in the comments section below to reveal your best solutions for aboveground rodent control.

fire ants

These little bugs can be formidable enemies in the garden. Now that black ants, your everyday garden species, are no longer a problem, they are actually an important part of the soil food web. Let the black ants be - while you're at it, so are the pill bugs (aka roly-polys). These are your garden friends - not like fire ants.

If you've ever been bitten by a fire ant, you know the burning pain and days of pain that follow. Like bees, each colony has a single queen -- although some colonies have multiple queens. The only way to truly wipe out a colony is to kill the queen (or queens).

Ants build large mounds from which worker bees scatter to feed on surrounding plants and animals. So, are they invading your garden? Of course they can. Fire ants like full sun and moist, soft soil—in other words, this is your ideal garden setting.

Fire ants are a big problem and a "hot" topic, and I'll cover them in more depth in a future podcast.

No doubt you have searched the Internet for ways to eradicate or control fire ants. If so, you've been inundated with page after page of chemical and natural advice. I'll cover what works and what doesn't in a future podcast.

Until then, here are two suggestions:

Pour boiling water on the mound. In addition, boiling water must reach the queen bee to be effective.

Natural orange oil has also been shown to be effective against fire ant colonies. The Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Program of Texas A&MAgriLifeExtension confirmed through their research that 1.5 fl oz of orange oil and 3 fl oz of dish soap (they used Medina® Orange Oil and Dawn® soap exclusively in the study), per gallon Dilute water that is more effective than the leading organic insecticide product - when a gallon of orange oil solution is poured on each mound.

There are many forms of organic and chemical insecticides that are effective in eliminating fire ant mounds in the landscape in the long and short term. I do not recommend using any organic or inorganic pesticides in elevated soil. Boiling water and orange oil are generally safer, but may kill or severely damage any nearby plants.

In my many years of gardening in the southeastern United States, I have never had a problem with fire ants in my garden or in my compost bin (another fire ant favorite). Why? I am not sure.

Some studies have shown that fire ants do not like soils that have a lot of microbial activity. Guess what - my garden soil is rampant with microbial activity. coincide? Honestly, I don't know, but it might be worth a try for you.