Archive for the ‘Organic Gardening’ Category


Hunting Out Those Pests!

May 17, 2012

It’s so satisfying seeing one’s hard work paying off in the garden with healthy plants blooming making a garden look great… however lurking in the undergrowth are some unwelcome garden visitors that are just waiting to munch away and destroy your hard labour.

Number one on the garden pest hit list are slugs and snails. These invaders will quite happily eat through soft young growth on herbaceous plants and vegetables. Nature’s way of controlling these pests is to encourage birds, hedgehogs, frogs and toads into the garden to help eat them up.

Another way is to collect slugs and snails after dark by torchlight on mild evenings, as this is when you’ll more likely to find them feeding. What you then do with the slugs and snails is up to you, but I always prefer a biological approach to eradicating these pests from my garden.

Vine weevil is another pest you need to look out for. The adult vine weevil beetle emerges at night and damages plants by eating around the edges of leaves leaving tell-tale irregular notches. It then lays its eggs mainly in flowerpots and the larvae (which look like maggots) will feed on the roots of the plant and will cause the plant to wilt and quite possibly die. To try and get rid of them you could search for them by torchlight and remove the feeding beetle from the plant.

You can also use a biological control method whereby you water the soil with nematodes, which then in turn will eat into the vine weevil grubs. Remember to use this watering method by watering your flowerpots in late summer while the soil is warm and moist.

You may recall that last year we have a mini-invasion of ants. Although ants cause little direct damage to plants they’re more of a nuisance than a pest. They make nests by heaping small mounds of fine soil on lawns, flowerbeds and pathways. Ants also collect the sugary honeydew that is excreted by sap-feeding aphids and in the process the ants drive off the useful aphid predators. Although we can’t totally eliminate ants from our gardens, we can reduce their numbers by hunting out their nest site and then dealing with the source of the ants.

One rather troublesome sap-feeding aphid is the Woolly aphid, so called because of the fluffy white waxy substance it develops on the bark of trunks and branches of trees and shrubs during the middle to late spring. There are various sprays that can be used but a heavy infestation is difficult to control. If you have the patience, then you can use a soft bush with which you could brush away the fluffy white substance.

Another method I have heard of, but not tried myself, is to paint menthylated spirit onto the affected area. You could also try some companion planting of Nasturtiums around under the infected tree or shrub.

So, if you think that your garden looks nice and that all is well… beware… as there may be hidden dangers lurking… just waiting to eat away at your favourite plants and shrubs.

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Organic Pest Control

April 20, 2012

ladybird2.jpgWhenever I see a ladybird in the garden I pick it up carefully and place it on a plant that is being attacked by aphids. The ladybird can then feast happily and save my plant from being vandalised.

I, like many gardeners, don’t like using toxic chemical pesticides, as some pesticides not only kill off the harmful pests but also the useful garden visitors too.

So what’s a better solution to save pest damage in our gardens?

Well, why not let nature help out instead? Pests themselves have enemies and understanding who the good and bad guys are in the insect world can help maintain and balance nature in the garden.

Creating a garden that is attractive to natural good predators will provide a base for organic pest control.

Many of the pest-consuming insects also need to eat pollen and nectar, and single open flowers are the best for attracting them as many of these small insects cannot reach into deep multi-petal flowers. Also try to have plants that flower early spring and autumn as well as the summer flowering plants to provide a constant supply of pollen and nectar food source.

Trees and shrubs are useful to provide homes for the garden’s allies. Remember that some of these allies are ground dwelling and like to live in dark, moist condition below ground cover or under mulch.

We all know and love the little dainty ladybird but not all the good guys of the insect world are as attractive. Centipedes and the shiny black ground beetle, although not as pretty as the ladybird, also get my support as they go around eating the slugs and snails.

The garden spider will make a meal of aphids, files, thrips and caterpillars. If you laygardenblog79.jpg a two inch deep mulch of dried grass clippings around your vegetables the garden spider will quite happily move in and reduce pest damage to your veg.

Hover-files have similar markings to that of the wasp. One way you can tell the difference is that hover-files have only one pair of wings and so they can remain static in flight. Hover-files have a healthy appetite and can eat up to fifty aphids a day; they also eat spider mites and caterpillars.

Lacewings are green coloured insects with delicate transparent wings with a lace pattern hence their name and their diet includes aphids, mites, beetles, leafhoppers, scale insects and caterpillars.

The parasitic wasp does not look like a normal wasp; it is smaller, mostly black and with long antennae. They give their prey an unpleasant ending by laying their eggs in the body of the pest, which then acts as food for the developing larvae.

So next time you need to consider pest control in your garden, enlist the help of the ‘good guys’ of the insect world use mother nature to help cut down pest damage in your garden.