Everyone wants to know about pests and the best way to take them out. But rather than preoccupying yourself with warfare, sometimes the best approach is a peaceful one, simply letting them know that your patch is off-limits. In this top five, we show you how to walk the line of conflict and peace in modern pest warfare.
POSSUMS, WHITE CABBAGE MOTH, BIRDS, LAZY RATS
A netting fortress around your patch is exactly that, and it will deter and prevent access for a number of the larger pests. Properly constructed netting – pulled taut and not hanging on plants as a climbing ladder – will keep out possums and birds. And if the rats in your vicinity are relatively lazy, they’ll find it a big enough deterrent to go bother someone else. Finer insect netting, used over the patch when your seedlings are young and most attractive to the white cabbage moth, will deny landing space for the moths to lay their larvae. That’s not to say they won’t lay nearby and the caterpillars won’t then crawl into the patch and start feasting, but it does set them back. See the number five technique if you inevitably encounter those fat green caterpillars in the patch.
We’ve probably told you enough times by now that the open invitation for pests into your patch is when you water the garden nearing nightfall. Not only do plants go to sleep at night and take up little moisture then, but all pests – even those that don’t dwell in the garden – head out to feed under the cover of darkness. Of course, an essential element is water, and having the patch moist at night helps push through the lovely fragrances and scents of everything growing in it. We know this will feel so wrong, but watering first thing in the morning, as part of the daily routine, will give your plants access to water when they need it, not the pests. To compound the effectiveness of your watering strategy, use a drip system that feeds water directly to the root zone or avoid randomly blasting each plant with the garden hose. Avoiding wet foliage further helps keep the night crawlers out of the patch.
3. Eco-oil / White-oil
WHITEFLY, APHIDS, THRIP, SCALE
Sucking pests, such as whitefly, thrip and aphids, are seasonal pests that go bonkers for early spring (and autumn) weather. The increase in heat, along with more frequent rainfall, creates a humid environment that these pests revel in. Rather than bemoan your horrible luck and take this influx personally, put a dent in their fun by hitting them early with a purpose-built spray, such as eco-oil. Old-school garlic sprays are also effective in this regard, but a more powerful potion, administered in a timely fashion – not on a ridiculously hot, sunny day, nor on a wet, rainy one – will help kill their vibe. One application is never enough, so build on the first spray by hitting them with another a few days later. Make sure to apply to both sides of the plants' foliage.
We all know from experience that good hygiene helps entice the good things in life, and a lack of it attracts the bad – yep, because you got the funk! The garden can also get its funk on if you drop the hygiene ball. Maintaining a clean garden is not a monumental task, and needs only a touch of grooming. Jobs include removing dead limbs/plants, mulching the patch, picking fruit when it’s ready, culling plants that are growing over the top of each other, and giving the patch its bath in the morning. A clean and healthy patch means there’s less food for the pests to feed on, and when the plants are strong, they are less susceptible to an outbreak of trouble.
WHITE CABBAGE MOTH
Every veggie gardener needs to brace themselves for the inevitable visit from these nasty, green fellas. The nature and numbers of the moth means that some of them, in some way, will eventually break through or outsmart your fortifications, so there will come a time when you come face to face with this old adversary. If the damage is minimal and numbers seem small, a game of search and destroy should be sufficient in controlling them. But when you find yourself overwhelmed, the fallback option is an organic spray known as Dipel, a naturally occurring bacteria that targets caterpillars. It’s like a sniper that only takes out the target. The only problem is that the sniper can’t identify between harmless and harmful caterpillars, so it is indiscriminate and will take out all caterpillars. Unfortunately, some collateral damage may sometimes be necessary for the greater good of your garden.