Posts Tagged ‘aphids’

7 Simple Strategies to Prevent Garden Pests

July 15th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

 7 Simple Strategies to Prevent Garden Pests

Pests are an all too common challenge, but that doesn’t mean they need to gain the upper hand. In fact in most cases there are ways to prevent your crops from getting infested in the first place.

Read on or watch the video for seven simple, savvy strategies to help you prevent garden pests.

1. Grow Resistant Varieties

Our first strategy is to make life easier for yourself by selecting varieties that are known to have some resistance to common pests. Spend a little time researching seed catalogues for suitable varieties to reduce pest problems later on. Look out for carrot-fly-resistant carrots, for example, or seek out potatoes that shake off eelworm attacks.

2. Confuse PestsGrow vegetables with coloured leaves, like purple varieties of cabbage or kale, to confuse garden pests further

Interplant crops with one another. This confuses passing pests because they will find it harder to home in on their preferred crop. You can interplant different vegetables, or mix up vegetables with herbs or flowers to create a more diverse – and confusing – planting scheme. Obfuscate some more by growing vegetables with coloured leaves, like purple varieties of cabbage or kale, that insects won’t expect.

3. Plant Outside of Peak Times

Another deceptively simple strategy is grow vegetables outside of the peak times for their pests. Take the example of flea beetles, which chew tiny holes in the leaves of brassicas. Their activity peaks in midsummer. So grow vegetables such as Asian greens and mustards in the autumn, when fewer beetles are about. You can also plant before a pest arrives. This works well with fast-growing early peas for example, helping them to dodge the destructive attention of pea moths.

4. Grow Out of the Way

Physically move vegetables out of harm’s way. Grow carrots and cabbage family crops in pots at least 18in (45cm) above ground, well out of the way of low-flying carrot flies and cabbage root flies. Raised pots also reduce problems with slugs and other soil-dwelling pests.

Starting seedlings off under cover in pots is a reliable way to avoid early setbacks from the likes of pigeons and slugs. By the time they’re transplanted your plants will be bigger, sturdier and more capable of withstanding minor attacks.

5. Use Physical Barriers

Make good use of barriers like horticultural fleece to physically separate pests from plantsMake good use of barriers to physically separate pests from plants. Insect mesh, floating row covers or horticultural fleece will stop just about any pest from getting near your hard-won crops. Leave covers to rest on the plants or support them on hoops. Secure them around the edges so pests can’t gain access by just walking in at soil level. Covers are a great solution for caterpillar-prone brassicas and for barring entry to the likes of carrot fly, aphids and squash bugs.

6. Attract Beneficial Bugs

Ladybirds, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, lacewings – just a few of the beneficial bugs that help control pests by either eating them or hatching their young inside them. Tempt more beneficial bugs into your garden by growing lots of the flowers they love like cosmos, sweet alyssum, dill, yarrow and many more besides. Grow them among or immediately next to your vegetables for maximum impact.

7. Keep Plants Healthy

Finally, make sure plants are as healthy as they can be, because strong, healthy plants are less susceptible to pests. Stress-free plants have their own pest defences which more often than not allow them to see off pests without help from us. So grow plants in the right conditions, keep them well fed and water well in dry weather. Don’t forget to feed the soil too with plenty of well-rotted organic matter such as compost, to promote a thriving root system that supports healthy growth above ground.

Those pesky pests keep us on our toes don’t they! But arm yourself with the right strategies and you can keep them well away from your crops. Share your own pest prevention techniques with us – how do you take care of common pests and how successful are you? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Helping helpful insects

November 16th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

BlueTit-©-Francis-C.-Franklin--CC-BY-SA-3

We’ve heard so many of reports recently about the decline in insect populations, both pollinators and other insects, that many gardeners are wondering how they can help. Recent news of the decline in bird populations and the populations of other vertebrates is also rather chilling.

Insects are not only vital pollinators for our crops and for wild fruits and for seed-set in wild and garden flowers, but they also provide – not to put too fine a point on it – themselves as food for birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and even other insects. A brood of ten blue tit chicks can get through one thousand caterpillars – per day! [At first, I didn’t believe that either but the British Trust for Ornithology confirms the figure]

But blue tits are also very efficient predators of aphids, and I’ve watched them dealing with infestations on roses and lupins very efficiently, carrying beakfuls off to their chicks.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we plant roses so that blue tits and other birds can feed on their aphids! But the help of gardeners can be crucial in two ways: firstly, by attracting wildlife of all kinds to our gardens through providing food and nest sites, and secondly by planting varieties that insects appreciate. Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at different ways to help insects and other wildlife.

Of course, protecting natural habitats is crucial and one way of helping with that is to buy friends and relatives memberships of conservation organisations such as local wildlife trusts as Christmas gifts – and to join up yourself.

So that’s a start: your local wildlife trust. And next time I’ll be thinking about insect friendly flowers.