Garden pests can invade and destroy your garden, making life a misery for the keen gardener. However, chemical pesticides will also destroy the bugs which are beneficial to your garden, so try a few natural options first.
Look After Your Plants
The best way to prevent insect damage is to discourage insects from coming into your garden. So, your best defence is a healthy garden.
Removing and destroying any weak plants is a good place to start, as they may already be infected.
Because many insect pests stick to particular plant species, mixing things up will help to stop the infestation. By rotating your crops every year, you will lessen the chances of reinfestation from pests that have over-wintered in your ground. And by mixing your plantings up, pests will be confused and unable to move from plant to plant. This works especially well if you mix in some strong herbs such as mints, basil and garlic. It also turns your vegetable plot into a colourful patchwork.
Attract Beneficial Insects
Planting items such as parsley, carrots and celery will encourage tiny parasitic wasps into your garden who will feast on leaf-destroying caterpillars, while daisies attract ladybirds which will happily chomp on aphids, mites and whiteflies.
Flowering plants will also attract hoverflies and lacewings who will merrily munch on aphids and other insect pests.
Traps and Barriers
Floating row covers are brilliant for keeping pests off vegetable patches. They’re lightweight, opaque materials which are draped over the vegetables, keeping pests out but allowing sunlight, rain and fresh air through. The material is so light it simply pushes up as the plants grow. All you need to do is anchor it down so the wind can’t blow it away, and pests can’t get underneath.
Slugs are a problematic pest that eat pretty much anything. They thrive in damp soil, so clear out any excess mulch or damp, dark places. Spreading diatomaceous earth around your plants will protect them as the gritty substance pierces slug’s skin. Placing copper strips around the edge of your garden will also stop them in their tracks as it causes an unpleasant reaction to their slimy bodies.
If slugs are already in your garden, then buy some beer. Slugs love beer, so burying a deep tub in the soil and filling it to the brim with beer will entice them in, where they will drown. (a handy tip we learnt from Envirosafe pest control in South London)
Rodents can be a huge problem in your garden. Firstly, secure any food sources including the compost bin so they’re not enticed in by the smell of food. You can buy sealed compost bins if you have a rodent problem. If you feed the birds, make sure you regularly clean up any seeds underneath the bird table
A great deterrent for rats, which also works on rabbits, is to soak a rag or cloth in peppermint oil and place it in areas of rodent activity, making sure it’s under cover so the rain doesn’t dilute the mint. Rodents hate the smell of mint and will give the area a wide berth.
Nobody likes garden pests, but by following these few simple tips you can make sure your garden stays healthy and protected from those pesky critters.
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