Unfortunately as gardeners we face many pests and diseases that are keen on devouring our crops before we can. Here are 3 common pests to watch out for if you want a bumper crop.
SNAILS – Snails absolutely love young tender seedlings and will happily chomp their way through your entire patch of newly planted seedlings overnight while you’re safely tucked up in bed and dreaming of the delicious vegetable that your new plantings will produce.
There are quite a number of ways you can rid your garden of these pesky little devils. It really depends on your preference and how much effort you want to put into controlling them. Here’s just a small selection of effective controls:
Snail Pellets – these are incredibly effective but if you have pets and want to protect the wildlife make sure you get a brand that is safe to use around your furry family members. I’ve used the ‘Multicrop’ brand very successfully to control the snail population. Plus if you get them in spring before they start multiplying you will find that the following year you’ll have less of a problem.
Copper Tape – If you have raised garden beds or are growing in pots then this can be very useful as the snails can’t crawl across it. Generally you can purchase this at garden centers or hardware stores and then put it around the top perimeter of your garden bed surround or your pots. Make sure there is nothing that makes a ‘bridge’ over the copper tape otherwise the snails will crawl across it.
Snail Traps – you can purchase commercial snail traps or make your own using empty takeaway food containers. Cut a square ‘door’ into the side of the container but leave the piece attached and fold down so it acts like a bridge for the snails to crawl up. Then fill the container with beer and place in the garden near your plants. The snails absolutely love beer and will make a beeline for it. Once in the container they’ll drown and you can get rid of them in the morning.
APHIDS – If you’ve ever grown roses then you know how much these tiny pests love tender new growth and they will cluster in huge masses sucking the sap right out of your lovely plants.
In an ideal world it would be wonderful to just find a collection of ladybird beetles who would make short work of all those sap sucking aphids. Using an ‘oil’ spray might be a little easier though. You can use white mineral oil which you can purchase from the garden center or even vegetable oils will do the trick. Just keep spraying them daily until they are under control.
Alternatively you can make a spray using water infused with fresh crushed garlic. Aphids hate the smell of garlic and it tends to drive them away. If you plant garlic and onion plants randomly throughout your vegetable garden, they will act as a natural deterrent as well.
CABBAGE WHITE BUTTERFLY – You’ll see these little white butterflies happily fluttering around your vegetable plants in spring and early summer. Certainly they look harmless enough however what they’re doing is laying eggs in your prized crops. They especially like brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants. Once the eggs hatch you’ll find small green caterpillars all over the leaves of your plants happily munching their way through leaf after leaf until your plant is bare.
The caterpillars are easily picked off the plants and disposed off but this can be time consuming and you might miss some. A better way to control these harmlessly is to cover them with an insect control netting which will keep the butterflies away from your plants. You can make a small frame to drape your netting over. Garlic spray is also useful to both deter and kill the caterpillars.