There’s nothing more frustrating to the committed gardener than seeing a prized shrub munched by bugs, or tender new seedlings being leeched by aphids. Keeping on top of pests is key to a successful garden, but I prefer to take a green, eco-friendly approach to pest control where I can. Ultimately, our garden is a diverse ecosystem and our favourite garden wildlife predate on many pests, so it’s beneficial to have some around. That said, there are lots of ways to keep bugs and slugs under control to protect our plants and crops without harming the environment around us.
Chemicals are everywhere in this day and age, so it’s a good idea to try to reduce their use in your garden where you can. Chemicals can get into the soil and water supply, as well as be ingested by larger insects, birds and animals that they weren’t intended for – this can cause serious harm. The good news is, there are lots of organic and eco-friendly pest control methods that you can start employing in your garden today.
Make your own spray
Chemical-laden pest control sprays are everywhere, but where possible it’s greener to make your own. Thoroughly rinse out a repurposed household spray bottle (or pick one up cheaply) and fill with a mixture of tap water and a dash of regular washing up liquid. Hey presto, a quick and easy spray that can be applied directly to plants affected by greenfly and aphids – without causing the plant harm.
A great way to stop pests from attacking your prized plants is simply to deny them access! There are lots of barriers that work really effectively. Piling straw around the base of plants will block a creepy crawly’s way up to the leaves. Copper tape placed around the rim of containers will stop slugs from passing. Crumbled eggshells spread across the soil around plants will act almost like razor wire for slugs and snails too, and stop them in their tracks.
We’re surrounded by natural allies in the garden in the form of birds, frogs, hedgehogs and other insects like ladybirds. These critters are on our side in the fight against garden pests, as creepy crawlies provide a nutritious snack. Hang out bird feeders to attract birds, create a pond in a container for frogs and ensure hedgehogs can have easy access to your garden if they’re in your area.
Keep it clean
Having a good clean of your garden in the springtime and autumn is a great way to deprive pests of a place to hide away and multiply. Clean out your greenhouse, wash any dirty flowerpots, clean your equipment, have a good sweep and compost fallen leaves and branches a few times a year.
Of course, a quick and easy method of pest control is one I like to call ‘squidging’ – simply plucking up pests when you see them (this isn’t one for the faint-hearted!). Slugs also love cool and shady areas, so you could lay a piece of cardboard on the floor overnight and remove the ones gathered underneath for disposal the next morning. After a spot of rain is a good time to do a recce of the garden and hunt down any slugs and snails who will be out and about.
You can of course move slugs, snails, caterpillars and the like elsewhere in the garden, but there’s always the risk of them making their way back and, of course, multiplying. This can become time-consuming, and as with many things, prevention is better than the cure in this case.
I hope this article has given you some good ideas for preventative measures you can take in your garden, whilst maintaining good green credentials.
Happy pest-free gardening! Katie x