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Top 5: Garden pests and how to avoid them

19th June 2020

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You’ve worked hard getting your seeds sown, they’ve germinated, you’ve potted them on and perhaps moved them outdoors now. Everything is going to plan, when ‘BAM!’ - an infestation of pests stops your success in its tracks. But fear not - here’s your quick guide to the most notorious garden pests and the best way to avoid them causing too much damage to your wonderful crops.

Slugs and snails

These beastly creatures need no introduction – you’ll never rid your plot of them all but you can definitely keep numbers down to acceptable levels. With their voracious appetites, slugs and snails will take as much pleasure in your crops as you do. Deter them from your plot by making life hard for them – use copper tape around pots and clear away any debris that may provide a home for these molluscs. Gritty mulches such as eggshells or gravel may also stop them in their tracks.

Aphids

These sap sucking pests – of which there are many different kinds – can have a severe impact on your carefully cared-for crops, causing weak and stunted growth. Many varieties leave a sticky honeydew on your plants which enables sooty mould to thrive. Cover your crops with a mesh to prevent an infestation.

Pigeons

Once we enter autumn, and food is getting scarcer on the plot, these greedy birds will be eyeing up your greens. Overwintering peas and brassicas are their favourite eats. Cloak these vulnerable crops in netting, holding it tight with canes and clips so that the birds aren’t caught up in it yet are still deterred from the plot.

Carrot fly

The larvae of this small fly will, as its name suggests, attack carrot roots, along with parsnip, celeriac, celery and parsley. To help reduce the occurrence of this pest, firstly sow seeds at the correct spacing to prevent the need to thin them later as this attracts female flies. Timing is also important to consider as this can help reduce the issue. If you wait until the middle of May has passed to sow your first carrot seeds then you miss the occurrence of the first generation of the fly. Then lift the yields before the end of August and this will prevent problems with the second generation. Other options include barriers of polythene, insect-proof netting, crop rotation and choosing more resistant cultivars.

Spider mite

Don’t be fooled by the tiny size of these pests – they can cause severe damage to your under cover edibles in greenhouses and to outdoor plants in the hot summer weather. This mite feeds on sap, causing foliage to look mottled, and can even lead to leaf loss and the death of a plant. These insects breed rapidly, but they can be prevented by removing infested plants from glasshouses in late summer to reduce the number of overwintering mites. Tidying and washing the glasshouse will also prevent the return of these bugs.

For more brilliant growing advice, visit The Grow Show now.

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