Organic Garden Pest Control
Spring is nature’s sowing season, when the conditions are conducive to germination. You’ll know when the time is right, as the weed seedlings will start to sprout in the garden. Hoe them off on a dry day and leave the decapitated sprouts to wither in the spring sunlight. Consider applying a mulch around the beds and borders to conserve soil moisture and starve opportunist weed seeds of vital light.
There’s plenty you can grow from seed but don’t be too hasty. If you sow the seeds too early you will need masses of space for protecting potted-on seedlings until the weather is warmer and they can be planted outside. By sowing a few weeks later you will benefit from the warmer temperatures that will spurt the seeds into growth quicker and you will need less time for them to languish in the greenhouse before they can withstand the ambient temperatures outside. Sow a few seeds of the same plant every week or fortnight, they will mature in succession and extend the flowering season.
Watch out for early signs of garden pests. As the weather starts to warm up they start to appear and to breed vigorously feasting on newly emerging shoots of their favourite plants. If you can spot them early and reduce them in their numbers you can limit the extent of their presence within the whole garden. Bear in mind though that these tiny sapsuckers are a vital ingredient in the diet of many birds. If you annihilate them completely make sure you replenish the bird’s food source with some nutrient rich wild birdseed or some mealworms.
There are other things you can do to make your garden plants less susceptible to garden pest attack.
Make sure growing conditions are favourable for sturdy plant growth. Avoid using nitrogen-rich fertilisers: These can encourage excessive soft, sappy growth that attracts pests such as aphids.
Make your garden wildlife friendly to encourage a range of beneficial insects and creatures. Avoid using harmful sprays and provide suitable wildlife habitats such as hedges, woodpiles, ponds and nettle beds. There are many creatures that feed on aphids, including birds, insect larvae, earwigs and bats.
You can also choose to grow flowers that attract hoverflies, lacewings and ladybirds. These beneficial insects prefer small, simple flowers such as members of the Umbelliferae and Compositae families, as well as the poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii), Convolvulus tricolor and buckwheat.
Remember that these natural pest control allies do actually need a supply of aphids to survive, so leave some where they are not a particular problem. A patch of nettles can be a good source of nettle aphids.
Check susceptible plants regularly and squash any aphids that are seen. Pick off heavily infested shoots and leaves and drop them into a bucket of soapy water.
Where there is a heavy infestation on a rose bush or other shrub you can use a strong jet of water from a hose to dislodge aphids. This is best achieved early in the day to allow the plants to dry more rapidly and avoid conditions conducive for fungal diseases to attack.
If the problem is widespread and you need a helping hand then use a suitable insecticide. Sprays approved for use in the organic garden can be harmful to useful insects, so only use them as a last resort. Spray flowering crops at dusk when bees are not active.
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