Having to deal with the many pests that can infect garden plants is often viewed by gardeners as one of the most inconvenient and demanding obstacles to overcome in order to grow healthy plants, particularly any edible crops such as fruit and vegetables.
Some gardeners will always prefer to tackle pests with the use of a chemical spray. Garden pesticides are perfectly safe to use, provided they are used in exactly the same way that they instruct on the label. However, there are other methods of prevention and control which you can try before pests reach infestation level. The increased popularity of organic gardening techniques and the withdrawal of certain garden chemicals has led to a revival in popularity of some of these alternative methods.
Companion planting uses plants in a complementary way. For example you can mask susceptible crops with strongly scented plants positioned nearby.
- The strong scent of chives and garlic will deter aphids from roses and chrysanthemums
- Marigolds deter whitefly and mask the smell of surrounding crops. They also attract plenty of beneficial insects
Growing a wide range of plants is one of the best ways to prevent any serious damage in your garden as one plant may suffer damage but the next plant may be spared.
Biological controls are becoming very popular and allow you to control pests and adjust the balance of power without the use of chemicals. A biological control is simply the introduction of a natural enemy to control a specified pest. These natural insect enemies can be predatory, parasitic or in some cases can infect the pest with a fatal disease.
- They work better in a controlled environment such as a glasshouse
- The temperature must be favourable for the predator and the pest must be present, but not have reached infestation levels.
- It can take time for a biological control to establish itself so you need introduce a control before the infestation has become too developed
Keep your plants healthy and well cared for so it is far less likely to succumb to attack. Pests and diseases will always target weaker plants and a simple case of a nutrient deficiency can be all that it takes for a pest or disease to flourish.
The original version of this article first appeared in the Tiptree Tribune.