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  • Insect mesh

    Hi, last year I tried to grow some sprouts which were just devoured by caterpillars, even though I was checking for eggs all the time. So I thought I’d invest in some insect mesh (fine mesh). Now whilst I don’t have caterpillars (although found just one this evening, but don’t think it was a cabbage butterfly on) my plants were infested with Aphids. I’ve just spent the last hour spraying the leaves to knock them
    off (just water).

    Do people have much success with mesh? Do you incorporate any natural predators, as it strikes me that although it should protect my crop from nasties it also stops any natural predators getting in. Just after advice really as I spent a lot of money on the frame and netting. Many thanks for any help.
    Last edited by Backyard_Grower; 17-07-2020, 07:29 PM.

  • #2
    You need to cover the plants with mesh immediately you've planted them out, or if direct sown, then as soon as they emerge, before any pests have found them. I use enviromesh which is fine enough to keep out aphids. It is expensive but I have only a small space for brassicas and it protects them from everything - that is as long as nothing gets in when I have the cover off.

    Otherwise you need to use a netting fine enough to keep out butterflies but coarse enough to let in predators.
    Endless wonder.

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    • #3
      If you cover soon enough then you don't need to let natural predators in, as no pest insects get in, either.

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      • #4
        Aphids will get in anyway as they are spread by ants.
        I usually dig ants nests over and spray the eggs. If you get enough of them the aphids stay away.
        I never bothered with mesh this year. We had a bit of pigeon damage until some naughty shooting got done. Sparrows took most of the aphids off to feed there chicks. I have a feeder for the small birds that take aphids. The adults need seed.

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        • #5
          The frame & netting is a good investment for using every year,I’ve got net over two plants,they’re giving me peace at the moment,two other plants I’m clearing eggs a lot,it’s never ending. Moths lay eggs singularly on the leaf edges & cabbage whites in a cluster of about twenty,I’ve got both here they eat too much of the leaves without a net. Have you noticed any whitefly about? So many pests attack brassicas & I haven’t seen birds or any predators helping to eat them so the pests do take over. Can you squirt the aphids without removing the frame,put a tiny bit of soap or ecover washing up liquid into the water to wash off the aphid,when the suns gone down so it’s not going to burn. Then squirt with plain water incase of soap residue. They won’t go away with just plain water,soap will help get them out brussel tops too they hide so well.
          Last edited by Jungle Jane; 18-07-2020, 01:02 PM.

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          • #6
            Thanks, they seemed to have eased up now after I sprayed them off.

            Is everyone finding it a bad year for aphids?

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            • #7
              Terrible year for aphids! I thought my Globe Artichoke was a goner as it was thickly smothered in Blackfly, I looked at it again 2 days later and it has been cleared! My garden is full of ladybirds and hoverflies so I suspect their larvae have done the job.

              I've changed my way of gardening this year, I've switched to no dig and really gone to town with companion planting. Previously I have grown my brassicas under environmesh, and always found rouge caterpillars but this year I erected a walk under cover with netting (8ft bamboo canes with flowerpots on top) and interplanted my brassicas with leeks, dill and tagetes. The only butterfly I have seen in there was a Peacock. Cabbage Whites have completely ignored my brassica bed!
              Always aim for the best result possible not the best possible result

              Forever indebted to Potstubsdustbins

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              • #8
                We bought a 6x4m sheet of enviromesh for last years season and I built a frame that stans 90cm tall giving a space 2m x 4m with the tuck in at the bottom. We were late getting it on the brassicas and suffered a lot of white fly and some caterpiller damage. I tried neem oil/washing up liguid spray but that made the plants go light brown although the eventually recovered. This year we places the frame on the no dig bed a couple of weeks before planting and the net went straight on as soon as planting was complete. It looks much cleaner and healthy in there and we have started harvesting brocolli heads and Dwarf Curly Kale this week.
                About 2 weeks ago we planted some more brassicas out and immediatly netted with another new sheet of 6x4m enviromesh over some hoops. Later some marigolds and spare leeks were inter planted as the scent should throw off certain pests. Finally we were gifted some brassica plants from my sister so where the earl spuds came out we planted our remaining spares and these gifted plants. Again a net over straight away (old tent hoops and canes) the net this time is two pieces of scaffold netting which previously has been less than ideal but anything from this bed is a bonus to our planned harvest.
                I did go and retro plant marigolds/leeks in the first bed but the brassicas have since got quite big and may have crowded them out.
                So far this year then things are looking promising (famous last words), time will tell. No two seasons seem to be the same but we try to stay ahead of the game and learn a new lesson each year.

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