Time to Grow Tomatoes: Down in the Garden
DOWN IN THE GARDEN: What to Plant for Christmas

Down in the Garden - Spring Garden Pest Control



DOWN IN THE GARDEN: Safe Pest Control for Your Garden
Cheralyn Darcey

In our home gardens, we are usually asking plants from across the world to not only adapt to the weather and environment but to everyone and everything living in our gardens. The best way to have a healthy and pest-resistant garden is to plant natives but, most of us want tomatoes, lettuce and roses, so we need to find ways to protect them and to enable them to thrive. Other than companion planting, as we discussed last week, all other pest control measures should be only employed when the pest population is proving to be out of control. Your pest controlling methods, even organic ones, should be stopped as soon as your garden situation improves because no matter how careful you are, unfortunately these measures can affect native living things as well. Healthy plants are much better equipped to combat the invasion of pests. They can recover quicker, and they can better resist subsequent disease challenges as well. Water, feed and care for your plants properly as per their individual needs to keep them in tip top health. When working in the garden clean and disinfect tools and your hands when moving on to another plant as this helps stop the spread of pests and disease. You must remove damaged and diseased materials quickly to stop the spread as well. Other than using your hands to pick off the unwanted bugs, here are a few organic ideas to help you round your garden

 Barrier planting works by planting crops that your pests would rather eat than your garden treasures. You can plant as barriers to your whole garden or around more valued plants. Caterpillars love nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) while slugs and snails will head for lettuce (Lactuca sativa). There are also beneficial creatures and insects that you can encourage into your garden to help control pests for you. These include other less destructive to your garden insects along with birds, frogs and lizards. Keeping chickens will help if you can manage them. They love snails and slugs as well as a host of insects. Spiders and even wasps, as much as you might not like them, do a fantastic job of munching their way through a lot of annoying insects. The local bird population will love your bug problem so invite them in as well. How do we let the predators know we are open for their dinning pleasure? You can encourage them by having a water source such as a bird bath, a pond, nesting boxes and hives/insect hotels. This includes nettings to stop pests getting to your crops. Just make sure they are fine, breathable and white or clear and well anchored, so they do not entangle birds and animals. Things put on the ground that pests like slugs and snails won’t cross include crushed eggshells, nutshells or gravels. Copper is also known to be something snails and slugs won’t cross, and you can purchase copper tapes that can be effective along the edges of raised garden beds.

While traps and baits work exceptionally well in reducing unwanted pests and are far better than traditional poisons and chemicals, they can and do, trap beneficial bugs. The following should only be used as a last resort if other methods mentioned are not working.

Bottle Traps
These are incredibly easy to make, cheap and they do work but use as a last resort as  Once full, you simply throw away or wash and repeat. Neatly cut the top third of a plastic drink bottle off then Insert the top into the bottom. This creates a funnel that the insects will go into, attracted by whatever bait you use and be drowned in water that you need to add. Wasps: Use mashed up fruit in about 3cm of water and make sure that a few bits of fruit stick up from the water. Set on ground near places you have noticed wasps. House Flies: Old raw meat in about 3cm water with some sticking out from water. Make sure this trap is set in the sun. Stink Bugs and Moths: a battery-operated light in the bottom of trap. Set in a dark place in your garden.
Bowl Traps
Into a clear glass bowl place, a chopped-up piece of ripe fruit and cover with fruit juice mixed with ¼ teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. Cover with plastic cling film drum tight and punch about 3 to 6 holes, depending on size of bowl with a bamboo skewer or similar. This method works well for fruit flies.
Underground Container Traps
A good way to combat a slug or snail invasion but be mindful that you could inadvertently trap native snails. Use plastic containers about the size of a margarine tub with lid and cut away about a third of the lid. You want to create a cover for the container but have enough room for slugs and snails to fall in. Bury container to soil level, fill with beer/yeast mix and then put the lid on. You can also use half a scooped-out orange or grapefruit in the same way but without a ‘lid’.

All of these mixtures should be tested on a small part of the plant first and never used on stressed, dry or thirsty plants. Use in the evening and reapply as required to control pests.
The All-Rounder
This is suitable for a broad range of pests and the majority of plants.
6 unpeeled cloves garlic , 3 whole hot chillies, ½ cup of chopped tomato plant leaves, 500ml water, ½ teaspoon liquid soap. Blend all except soap in a blender and then mix in soap, strain into a spray bottle. Test on a leaf first and watch for adverse reaction over 24hours. If not noticed, spray all over plant when plant is not stressed and in the cooler evening. Use only as needed, no more than once every few weeks.

The Sure-Shoot
Mix up the above recipe and substitute the tomato leaves with any one or you could try a mixture of the following:
Ants: basil, mint, pennyroyal, tansy, wormwood
Aphids: coriander, dill, mint, chives
Weevils: catnip
Mice: wormwood
Cabbage White Butterflies: tansy, wormwood
Slugs and Snails: wormwood, rosemary
Mosquitos: pennyroyal, lavender, rosemary
Spider mites: coriander, dill
Gnats: pennyroyal
Fleas: wormwood, lavender
Flies: lavender, pennyroyal, tansy
Beetles: Tansy
Moths: wormwood, tansy, lavender
Cockroaches: catnip
Carrot Fly: basil, chives

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden educator at swampcentralcoast.com.au and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963, on air locally or download the app: www.communityradio.plus

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]