Being a glamorous green thumb has its fair share of perks, but it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes there are also bugs and birds. Not cute Disney ones – hungry and wily ones that can in an instant destroy weeks/months of hard work. It can really rip your undies. Last season, my strawberry patch was frequented by birds who were always one step ahead of me (photo featured), as well as snatching my first peach from my new peach tree. It was heartbreaking. Before you go through a similar ordeal here are my tips on how to prevent this happening to your garden without having to use anything nasty.
The first thing you need to do is figure out which pest you are dealing with (hence my 90’s throwback title). In this article I am going to deal with the pests that I have had problems with in my garden. If nothing here compares to what you are going through then you can email me, comment here or you can ask our old friend Uncle Google. Here goes.
Slugs: These guys will eat pretty much anything, but I have had the most problems with them partying down on my leafy veggies. Usually slug eaten crops have nasty holes through the leaves. Slugs are a pretty common problem in most gardens, so putting down a few slug preventers straight off the bat might be your best move. A lot of people use slug bait, which I won’t dismiss is a good way to get rid of them, I just feel a bit funny about buying a box of I-don’t-know-exactly-what and then putting it around my veggies. Slugs love moist patches in the garden so try using pea straw or equivalent to keep the surface ground drier. Crush up used eggshells and leave the shards around affected plant, this should stop them getting to your plant from the ground. My favourite technique is to dig a glass of beer into the ground so that the rim is level with the dirt. The slugs are attracted to the yeast, so if it isn’t raining too much overnight you should find that the slugs will get into the glass and drown in the beer.
Bugs: I have had the most problems with aphids really. If you have aphids then the leaves of your plants might appear discoloured or bumpy. Also check the undersides of your leaves as they could be hanging out there in plain view. Ladybirds are one of the best forms of natural pest control you can get, especially in the battle against aphids. To attract ladybirds into your garden you need pollen and there are many plants that they like, coriander is one of my favourites and an easy addition to the garden. Also don’t forget the power of spraying your plants with water and brushing the leaves, this can be time consuming and is obviously something you need to do regularly, but you can be sure you will be beating them and in a natural way. I suggest using an old toothbrush to brush your leaves.
Whiteflies: These jerks love brassicas and will commonly be the things destroying your cabbages. They leave sooty mould on your leaves and the leaves might also look yellowy or feel sticky. You will also see nibbles and usually you will see them flapping around- that should really give them away. Those crushed eggshells double as a preventative for these guys laying their eggs – multitasking high 5! Other than that its about planting strongly scented herbs or plant some lavender in your garden, they hate the smell so they won’t hang around. Also lavender is just really nice so why not.
Birds: My absolute garden rival. Birds primarily eat/absolutely blitz any berries or fruit you have growing but I have seen them attack plenty of other things in my garden. Birds can be a gardeners mate, they do eat a lot of bugs that you don’t want hanging around in your garden, but when they start eating your crops it becomes a sour relationship. I have heard that some people find hanging old CDs by strings in your garden can deter them but the birds in my garden are made of tougher stuff. I suggest buying bird netting, you need to get the proper stuff because it is important that you don’t cut off the sunlight to your plant whilst still keeping the birds at bay. You should be able to drape it over plants, but last year I had to make a fortress out of stakes and twine as well as the netting as the birds were leaning into my netting and sticking their beaks through the holes…. Even as I write this I am still filled with rage. Team this up with leaving plenty of other scraps out for the birds, especially bread will help.
Good luck troops, you may need it. Keep me posted on any success, or if you get in a jam with repeat offenders. It’s us against them, pals.
E Cus out.