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Beat those bugs

Beat those bugs

To enjoy plentiful fruits (and vegetables) from the garden, it's important to keep bugs under control.

A taste for Mother Nature's bounty is something we share with insects. Some bugs compete for our garden's goodies, while others help them grow. To enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labour, it's important to keep bugs under control.

  • Crop rotation – Only grow similar plant families (such as the cabbage family – brassicas) in the same place once every four years.
  • Companion planting – Certain plant species excel when grown together. Good gardening books have a section on which vegetables grow well together.
  • Don't cram your pumpkins, cucumbers or courgettes so close together that air cannot circulate – this creates an incubator for mildew.
  • Herbs such as sage, rosemary, peppermint and chives will discourage white butterfly, aphids and spider mite.
  • French marigolds discourage nematodes (small, root-eating worms).
  • Covering soil with sawdust, bark chips or straw (mulching) reduces humidity and also mildew.

While preventative measures will keep bugs at bay, it is unlikely your garden will be completely pest-free, so ongoing manual, biological and chemical cures are also required:

Manual

Hand-pick bugs off your plants and soil and drown in salty water. Do this regularly at night: it is amazing to see how many bugs come out under cover of darkness.

Biological

Encourage good bugs into your garden with these insect-attracting flora:

  • long grass attracts hoverflies
  • geraniums, coriander, fennel and dill flowers feed ladybugs
  • suet and seed cakes left around your plot entice birds – but make sure any berries are netted over as berries beat bugs on the bird menu.

Chemical

Natural and organic are the watchwords here:

  • A 10 per cent trim milk solution sprayed on leaves each evening cures mildew.
  • Regular dusting with white flour kills caterpillars.
  • Blend two heads of garlic, one teaspoon of kerosene (paraffin) and one tablespoon of soft soap flakes in one litre of water to make aphid spray.
  • Soapy water spray controls fungus and aphids.
  • Slugs love beer more than men do, so fill a saucer, place level in the ground and watch them get drunk and drown (the slugs that is).



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