There is no escaping it. Even the keenest of gardeners will at some point face an onslaught of bugs, critters and creepy-crawlies. And while some are seemingly harmless and almost friendly, some seem intent on destroying your hard green fingered work in their perpetual quest for a tasty plant snack.
Here are a few natural, inexpensive ways to help ward off unwanted visitors in your garden and to keep them from infesting your veggies and seedlings.
Plant garlic and chillies
Planting garlic bulbs or chillies between rows of vegetables or roses help to repel aphids and other insects as most bugs hate their scent. You can also make a natural insect-repellent by mixing powdered garlic or dried chillies with water. Spray it on the plants you want to protect and you should remain pest-free.
Use coarse surfaces to deter snails
Snails can prove to be the biggest pests of all and are quite sneaky about it too! A top tip when dealing with snails is that they hate crawling over coarse, uneven surfaces! So one of the easiest ways to keep them from attacking your precious seedlings is to surround them with crushed eggshells. Not only does it keep the snails away, but it also has the added benefit of boosting nutrient levels in your soil.
Consider companion planting
Companion planting is the practice of planting herbs, vegetables and flowers that benefit each other close together. For example, parsley and marigolds are good companion plants for asparagus, as they repel asparagus beetles, and dill is a good companion plant for broccoli, as it attracts beneficial wasps, which prey on insect pests.
Because we are intrinsically earth warriors, we try to encourage these natural remedies before reaching for insecticides, but if you find you are losing the battle with your garden pests and want to look at a chemical solution, here is something to consider. The main disadvantage of using broad-spectrum chemical insecticides is that they kill all the good insects in your garden too. Up to 95% of all insects in your garden are either harmless or actually help your plants. Bees and butterflies are essential for fertilising fruit and flowers, ants clear away weed seeds and insect eggs, and dragonflies eat aphids and mosquitoes.
Before you resort to the use of insecticides – even organic varieties – make sure you follow these guidelines:
- Inspect your plants regularly for signs of disease. The earlier you spot a pest infestation, the easier it will be to deal with. If you catch it soon enough you might even be able to solve the problem with a strong spray of water.
- Always spot-treat problem areas rather than spraying the entire garden bed. The more you spray, the greater your chances of killing good insects that could actually help your pest-control efforts.
- Watch the weather. Don’t spray in very windy weather, as it will be very difficult to target problem areas. And don’t spray just before it rains either, as you will simply be wasting your time.
Find lots more plant advice from the Bumbles team on our gardening hints & tips page.