Do it yourself pest control can be far better for your garden and your bank balance than buying Shop-brought pesticides.
We’ve all heard about the hospital superbugs which are antibiotic-resistant, but not many people know that the bugs which attack your vegetables can also become resistant to pesticides. It is far better to use natural resources to keep your garden and plants free of bugs.
These can affect both your vegetable plots and the plants in your greenhouse. They can transmit the virus to your plants, causing stunting and deformities. The ‘honeydew’ they leave causes black mold to grow on the leaves. Using do it yourself pest control you can combat the aphids before they do damage.
Grow flowers such as marigolds that attract the greenfly predators, hover flies, ladybirds and lacewings. It’s always good to know the good bugs from the bad bugs, and many people mistake hover flies for wasps. Hover flies are smaller, much faster, they hover, and their markings are less vivid than wasps. They are the sign of a healthy garden.
Insect eating birds like blue-tits and the common sparrow can be lured into your garden by nest boxes, or if you have no room or space, by putting up fat balls or scattering meal worms, which they love. They also eat the aphids.
Use a hose to simply spray the aphids off the plants, or use a simple spray of soapy water (three tablespoons of washing up liquid to one gallon of water, and shake well). An alternative is one teaspoon of canola oil, and one teaspoon of washing up liquid added to one cup of water.
Slugs and snails
The first sign you may have of these is the trail they leave behind, as they primarily come out at night unless it’s raining.
The tried and tested beer trap is always a good and natural method of dealing with slugs and snails. Dig shallow holes around your vegetable plot and insert containers until they lie flush with the surface of the soil. This is a good way of reusing plastic bottles before you recycle them; cut them down to about a third, or length-ways in the case of some large plastic milk bottles, but any old bowl or chipped cup or mugs will do. Fill them with a cheap beer. Throw away the beer and replace about every three days. Alternately, you can go out at night with a torch and simply pick the slugs and snails up. Sprinkling salt on slugs, while it works, seems rather cruel. Diatomaceous earth works as a barrier against slugs and snails if sprinkled around the plots.
Hedgehogs eat slugs, snails and beetles, and these days you are as likely to see one in a small town garden as the country, maybe more likely as there are not so many predators. If you have a chemical and pesticide free garden and any small gap into it, it’s quite likely you will be visited by hedgehogs. They will be delighted to help you deal with your slugs and snails and become another valuable asset to your do it yourself pest control efforts.
Not to be confused with normal fleas, these will shred your cabbage or brassicas, although they do not bite humans. A floating row cover, a horticultural fleece can be used to cover your plants when they first begin to grow.
Pest control is not always about spraying, blocking or protecting, and it is worth mentioning the benefits of companion planting, breaking up your vegetable plots with unrelated plants and flowers. This confuses the flea beetle and other pests, and attracts more of the beneficial birds and insects.
Crop rotation is also important, and has been implemented since ancient times. Make a sketch of your garden and plan to plant different crops each year in different places, as it reduces the risk of plant diseases and is good for the soil. It does not matter if your garden is tiny, you can still move the crops around.
Remember that certain plants belong to the same family: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and aubergines are related, as are greens, cauliflowers, cabbages, and sprouts, so give one plot a break from the same ‘family’ each year.
Do it yourself pest control is easier than it might sound, environmentally friendly and inexpensive, helping you to keep your garden and what grows in it prolific and without any build up of chemicals in the food you eat.