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Luscious green leaves and sweet, juicy fruit make the efforts of gardening worthwhile.
However, this bountiful harvest is just what your garden pests were hoping to eat. Months of preparation, planting and growing can quickly disappear if you don’t protect your garden from pests.
But don’t be disheartened. Try these five ways to protect your garden from common pests.
Prevention is the best cure
Strong, healthy plants are less likely to fall victim to many pests and diseases. Locate your garden in full sun, with a lovely rich soil and rotate your crops each season.
Look after your plants with a regular watering and a fortnightly dose of plant tonic, like Seasol.
Interplant your vegetables and fruit trees with flowers. They look gorgeous and attract the predators of many pests.
Finally, give your plants enough space for air to flow, and for predators to access any pest outbreaks. This is just as important in your vegetable patch, as it is for fruit trees.
Slugs and snails
They may look small and innocent, but these critters can eat through a whole row of seedlings or half a lettuce in just one evening. The most effective organic treatment is to set traps.
Slugs love beer—so cut the bottom 4 cm off an empty plastic bottle and half fill it with beer. Slugs can get into the beer, but not out.
Snails love to hide under a moist brick, so pop a brick near your garden and cover it with a piece of cloth, then check it daily for snails. Feed any slugs or snails that you trap to chickens.
Crushed eggshells around the base of plants are a fabled slug and snail barrier. However, while they work fine when it’s dry, they’re ineffective after rain or heavy dew.
While it’s not technically organic, snail and slug pellets that contain an iron compound from most garden stores. They break down into non-poisonous by-products. Simply sprinkle the pellets around the plants that you need to protect.
Sap sucking aphids
These tiny bugs will settle in their hundreds on tender new stems or new leaves. They suck the sap and exude a sticky substance, on which black mould sometimes grows.
Roses are a favourite for aphids and new buds can be covered (and destroyed) by these little critters. A strong jet of water will dislodge and kill aphids.
Try a home-made white oil spray by mixing one cup of sunflower oil with half a cup of dishwashing liquid. This is your concentrate. Place a tablespoon of the concentrate into a litre spray bottle that’s filled with water and spray the aphids.
White oil suffocates the aphids. You can also buy a range of commercial, organic approved sprays in your local garden store.
Pretty, white butterflies in your vegetable patch are a bad sign. They’re looking for a brassica plant, like cabbage, broccoli, kale or cauliflower; the perfect location for their eggs.
Cabbage moth caterpillars eat voraciously—they make holes and take chunks out of your luscious brassica leaves. A single caterpillar can eat half a leaf in just one day.
The good news is that effective, organic treatment is available. There’s a biological control, a bacteria, that you mix with water and spray onto leaves. Simple.
Possums and birds
Fruit trees with a plentiful harvest can be shared with birds and possums if you’re feeling generous. However, if you want the full harvest, physical barriers are the most effective way to prevent birds and possums.
Smaller trees and gardens can be netted—quite a bit of work at the season’s beginning. You can also try preventing possums from entering your garden in the first place, but knowing their route and cutting it off by trimming branches or placing corrugated iron around the trunks of trees or posts that they climb down.
Possums are also repelled by strong smells and tastes—and in the same way that humans like and dislike different smells, so do possums. You can buy commercial possum repelling sprays in most garden stores, or try making your own from garlic spray at home.
Finely chop four cloves of garlic and place them in a litre of boiling water. Let the mixture stand overnight, then spray it onto the possum’s entry route to your garden, or directly onto affected leaves. Ciao possums!