Termites in Raised Bed Garden: Here’s What You Should Do


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Termites can be a serious headache. Not only can they ruin your expensive furniture but they can also be the cause of severe dangers if they get into the wooden structures of your home. But thankfully getting rid of them is pretty straight forward. 

You can get rid of termites from your raised bed garden by spraying vinegar or orange oil. Also, you can construct your raised bed by using termite-resistant materials such as treated wood, plastic, or metallic sideboards, and posts as well as ensuring that the soil has proper drainage.

But just knowing this is not enough. This is why I have briefly explained everything that you need to know about termites so that you have a better understanding of how you can solve your termite problem.

Type of Soil Termites Are Attracted To

Termites in raised bed garden

Termites are much like regular ants, just subterranean, meaning they’re active deep beneath the surface of the soil.

Termite infestation is a common problem all over the world. These pests are mainly divided into three major categories-

  1. Dry wood termites,
  2. Subterranean termites
  3. Damp wood termites.

They survive by eating cellulose, which can be found in every type of tree and plants.

The intensity of termite infestation depends on the soil. Different types of soil can be found in a garden such as sand, potting soil, topsoil, clay, peat soil, etc.

As a result, the type of soil within your raised bed will heavily influence the activity and behavior of termites. Especially the subterranean ones, as they nest deep in the ground.

It is very hard for subterranean termites to live on soils that are compact like topsoil or clay. On the other hand, they can easily move through sand. This is why you might see more termite activity on sands as opposed to clay, or topsoil.

Also, when the soil is too hard for subterranean termites to move around, they will construct tunnels, and shelter tubes to move around easily.

If your raised bed garden is infested with termites, you might’ve noticed this in your garden’s sideboards. 

Moisture is very important for subterranean termites. They love damp soil. The moisture content creates an ideal environment for them to survive and thrive.

This is also another reason for gardens getting infested by termites as you need to water your garden regularly. 

termites in raised bed

Types of Wood Termites Are & Are Not Attracted To

As mentioned before, termites feed on cellulose. And you can find this on every type of plant and trees. They make their nest near a food source such as gardens or some moist, dark place where decomposed wood is present. 

Subterranean termites love to eat springwood. This type of wood grows in the early summer and in spring. This wood is categorized by its large, thin-walled cells and its soft fibers. Subterranean termites love woods that are soft and are rotting.

They start feeding on springwood that is close to the ground. Woods closer to the ground usually contain a higher amount of moisture. And subterranean termites love it.

Damp wood termites are also attracted to soft, moist woods. They usually build their colonies in wooden structures that contain high moisture content. And they mainly feed on dead trees, logs, and stumps that are rotting.

As for Dry wood termites, moisture is not that important for them. They mainly feed on hardwood furniture, structural timbers, etc. 

This type of wood doesn’t contain that much moisture content. But Drywood termites have the ability to extract the water content from woods so that they can survive. 

But there are some woods like yellow cedar, Laotian teak, cypress, and redwood that have a natural resistance to termites. 

Also, termites avoid any sort of pressure-treated lumber. Woods are pressure treated with preservatives, which prevents them from rotting. And termites can’t stand the presence of these chemicals.

Composites woods are also resistant to termites. This type of wood contains materials that are toxic to them. This is why termites avoid composite woods.

Can Termites Harm Plants and Vegetables?

Termites feed on cellulose. They mainly eat rotten woods that are infested with fungi. But that doesn’t mean that they will not harm your plants and vegetables. 

Termites can damage some crops’ roots in your raised bed garden. 

If the condition is ideal, then termites will feed on the roots and stems of plants like tomatoes, okra, pepper, and other plants in your garden that have wooden roots and stems.

Most of the vegetable plants in your garden are not a food source for termites.

Safe Pesticides to Use Against Termites

If you have a termite infestation in your garden, it is never a good idea to use chemical pesticides to get rid of them.

These chemical pesticides can get rid of the termites, but at the same time, all the plants and vegetables will be contaminated. On top of that, it will also kill all the insects in your garden, good or bad.

This is why I have listed some safe pesticides that you can easily make using ingredients that you can find in almost any kitchen or you can buy from your local garden stores for a few bucks.

  1. Vinegar

    Vinegar can be found in every household. This acidic substance can be used to kill termites instantly. To make a termite killer spray, take half a cup of vinegar and the juice from two freshly squeezed lemons. Mix them together and your termite killer spray is ready. 

    Now put the mix in a spray bottle and spray it in your garden. The spray is so effective that it will kill termites on contact.

    And at the same time, there is no risk of contaminating your garden’s vegetables and plants with toxic chemicals. Use this spray regularly until you get rid of your termite problem.
  2. Orange Oil

    Orange oil is another of those pesticides that can solve your termite problem and at the same time do not pose any threat to the plants in your garden.

    Orange oil is extracted from orange peels. You can get it online or from your local garden store.

    When termites come in contact with orange oil, it will dissolve their exoskeleton. As a result, they will lose moisture and ultimately, they will die. Spray it in the termite infested areas in your raised bed garden.

    You can also use it to prevent termites from coming back. Just spray it regularly in your garden.
  3. Beneficial Nematodes  

    These are microscopic, worm-like parasites that actively hunt, penetrate and kill pests found in a moist, dark environment.

    They work is by seeking out and enter termites and other insects and then feed on them parasitically until they die.
Control Termites in the Garden

Changing Sideboards Without Damaging the Raised Bed

Termite infestation in a raised bed garden mainly damages the sideboards, posts, and stakes of the garden as most of the time they are made of wood. And if they are damaged badly, you might want to replace them with new ones.

To replace the sideboards without damaging your garden

  1. Use a shovel to remove soils located near the damaged board. 
  2. Hammer the board from the inside until a gap of about one inch opens between the post and the board. 
  3. Hammer the board from the outside so that the nail sticks out of the damaged board.
  4. Use the claw of the hammer to remove the nail. 
  5. Once you have removed all the nails, gently remove the damaged board and level the soil. 
  6. Then place the new board in place and nail it with the post.
  7. To remove the post, first, remove the sideboards adjacent to it. 
  8. Then dig a hole near it to loosen the soil. 
  9. Once the soil is loose enough, pull it out. Then insert the new and fill the hole with dirt. 
  10. Now attach the boards to the post.

Note: The soil in an established raised bed garden should have enough roots and other substrates within it to hold the soil together after the sideboards are removed.

Types of Raised bed garden

Raised Beds That are Resistant to Termites

To make your raised bed garden resistant to termites, you need to use woods that are resistant to them.

You can use cedars, redwood, Laotian teak, cypress woods to make sideboards and post for your garden. You can use composite or pressure-treated woods too. They also provide resistance to termite infestation.

Other than wood, you can use concrete walls, galvanized steel sideboards, and plastic boards.

Termites cannot eat away these hard structures. So, your garden will be free from them. Also, you can spray orange oil regularly in your garden for some extra protection from termites.

How Can Termites Be Beneficial in Soil?

Termites are great friends of nature. As mentioned before, termites feed on wood and other cellulose products. When a tree falls in the ground, it will take years for it to fully decompose. 

But termites make this decomposition process a lot faster and finally feed on them. And thus, enriching the soil with their manure.

They break down the tough fibers in trees and plants known as lignin and produce nutritious new soil which will provide nutrients for other plants to use.

Additionally, termites themselves will add nutrients to the soil after death as they will complete their life cycle in the soil. However, not all termite complete their life cycle in soil.

They can also help with soil aeration by their movements within the soil.

Construct Raised bed gardens away from the home

Termite infestation can cause havoc on any home and cost a lot to money to have the situation remedied. Raised bed gardens should be constructed some distance away from the home to prevent them from venturing to and attacking your home. 

Termites can travel up to 50 meters from the main nest and whilst you might think your home is safe, chances are, termites have already built an extensive network of concealed mud galleries or mud tunnels throughout your property. (Source)

Therefore some consideration and soil testing should be done before constructing a raised bed around the home.

Conclusion

Termites can damage your property and your garden. But you can get rid of them just by using organic pesticides that cost only a few bucks. 

Never use chemical pesticides on termites. They will not only contaminate your plants and vegetables but also will make your garden’s soil unfertile.

Termites cannot totally be removed from the soil and once detected, it may be already too late. It is better to adapt the use of more termite resistant materials when it comes to construction of raised bed gardens.

I hope that through this article you have gained an appreciation of what you have to consider that next time you are going to construct a raised bed garden and take precautionary measures to ensure that termites is not of your problems in the garden.

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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