My garden is so full of pests right now!
I am at war with the snails & slugs …
… who have devoured peas, beans, tomatoes and hollyhocks and are currently trying to munch the pumpkins, courgettes and sunflowers …
… and with the evil rosemary beetle …
… and the white fly who have descended on mass onto my sage plants.
I could go on!
As a novice gardener it’s so depressing to see all your hard work munched away.
A couple of mornings I could have cried when I opened our little tiny greenhouse to find yet another tray of seedlings … healthy the night before … with their leaves all gobbled up 🙁
But, I am trying to garden as organically as I can so I need to arm myself with a whole host of natural weapons against the invaders if I am going to win this war.
1. General Treatments for Garden Pests
- Sow plants that attract pest eating bugs like ladybirds (bugs), hoverflies and lace wing … dill, coriander, vetch, Queen Ann’s lace and cow parsley all work well … we had some cow parsley seed itself last year and had the most wonderful colony of ladybirds who saw off the black fly … but we haven’t see them yet this year, hence my white fly outbreak
- Encourage birds into garden with trees, hedges & climbers or bird boxes
- Encourage frogs into garden … frogs eat snails & slugs … a small wildlife pond or a nice damp area with some rocks or even bricks they can hide under is good … both frogs and newts have taken up residence in our greenhouse
- Encourage hedgehogs into the garden … create a woodpile & plant hedges between gardens to provide hedgehog friendly corridors
- Learn to recognise eggs & larvae & remove them … eggs usually quite bright so easier to spot than larvae underneath leaves and in case of slugs & snails in ground
- Plant garlic, onions & other aliums … the smell supposedly puts off snails, slugs, beetles & aphids … not totally convinced by this as the snails adore my chives and spring onions but have planted garlic in hope that will work
- Get your kids involved … my 4 year old’s eagle eyes and little fingers are brilliant at spotting beetles and we get in some maths fun tallying our daily count
- Tolerate some damage … many of these pests have their uses … the slugs & snails are doing a fine job in our compost heap so we don’t want to blitz them completely … I’ve learnt to accept that I am going to lose some plants and have learnt to sow over a longer period rather than all at once.
2. Slugs & Snails
These have been doing so much damage that I am now trying everything I can …
- Water in the morning rather than evening … goes against everything I was ever taught but supposedly reduces snails by 80% … have got to organise myself in the morning to do this
- Lay diatomaceous earth (UK) … I’ve just stocked up on this naturally occurring rock which is great for controlling a whole bunch of household pests and also helps get rid of snails; I’m putting in the greenhouse trays as the snails devoured so many seedlings
- Collect them up after dusk … my dad swears by this method, you have to go out every evening as it’s getting dark when they all come out to play … deposit them more than 100m away else supposedly they will find their way home
- Collect them up after it’s rained … again another tip from my dad
- Use copper tape … copper rings and tape (UK) are very handy for larger veg plants … I have put these around the surviving courgettes and pumpkins and next year will definitely put it round the peas
- Weed well … I like to think my laziness about weeds is eco friendly but a farmer friend tells me off for leaving too many nice shady places for them to hide
- Set beer traps … I’ve never had much luck with these but supposely jars of beer left out overnight will drown them
- Water with liquid seaweed … liquid seaweed is good for most veg and will ward off the slugs
- Set snail traps near key plants … leave an upturned plant pot with a small opening or a rock or piece of wood near to plants they love, in the morning you should find them hiding under it and can collect them all up
- Hunt down their homes … look under plants at the back of beds & other dark cool places … we have trellis on our fences and always find heaps hiding here
- Look out for their eggs … bright white balls that they lay in the soil … if you find them when you’re digging destroy them
- A ring of light gravel around key plants will create a rough barrier that the slugs & snails won’t like crawling over
- Lay rosemary … the slugs & snails definitely completely stay off, unfortunately they have still eaten the surrounding plants but laying rosemary around plants may help
3. White Fly, Green Fly, Black Fly & Other Aphids
- Spray with dish washing liquid … lots of people claim this works but I confess I haven’t had much luck with the white fly on our sage, it may just have been too wet the last few weeks
- Water them off … other people say you can just water them off everyday but as the rain hasn’t done the trick I’m a bit sceptical about this one
- Spray with neem oil … friends swear by neem oil so have just ordered some & have got my fingers crossed it will be the breakthrough
- Encourage the ladybugs … I can definitely vouch for this one, so do anything you can to attract ladybugs(birds) with ladybird houses & fennel, dill, yarrow, cow parsley, Queen Anne’s Lace … & learn to recognise the ladybug larvae who are rather ugly little fellows that you could mistake for enemy caterpillars & kill off by mistake
- Control ants … apparently the ants get in the way of the good bugs doing their job of munching up the bad bugs so do use natural treatments to get rid of them
- Cut off infected stems … if only certain stems are infected you could prune these to prevent spread
Who knew there were so many different kinds of pretty little beetle who could cause so much damage?! I am now a close acqaintance of the rosemary beetle but there are also viburnum beetles, lily beetles, vine weevils, Colorado potato beetles, bean leaf beetles, cucumber beetles, asparagus beetles …
- Pick larvae off … unfortunately the larvae are usually well disguised to match the plant they love most but if you find out what they look like you can hunt them down & pick them off
- Pick eggs off … it’s often easier to spot the eggs than the larvae
- Pick beetles off everyday … if you get an infestation you just need to keep picking away at them daily …
- Plant catnip .. the beetles supposedly don’t like the smell … I’ve just got a couple of plants I am putting in next to my poor rosemary but too soon to know if it works … catnip also good for mosquitoes and various household pests …
- Plant peppermint … works similarly to catnip … peppermint also good for seeing off mice and ants
- Plant marigolds … are supposedly particularly good for bean beetles
- Cedar mulch … cedar mulch can be put around plants & beds at risk
- Lay diatomaceous earth (UK) around plants
Caterpillars are the plague of brassicas, lettuces, chard, beans and more … touch wood we haven’t had too much damage from them yet but if you do get them you can …
- Pick eggs & caterpillars off the underside of leaves … different caterpillars have different breeding cycles so you need to investigate about which of your veg are at risk to which caterpillars but in general the young plants are most at risk
- Put cardboard rings around plants
- Garlic … put garlic around plants or create a garlic spray of garlic & water and spray the plants
- Hot pepper spray … make a hot pepper spray of water & pepper powder
- Sprinkle egg shells among brassicas … caterpillars supposedly mistake for moths
- Cover beds with mosquito nets to stop the butterflies & moths getting to them & laying eggs
Do hope some of these work for you? Good luck!