For those of us who love being out in the garden there is something very primordial and richly satisfying about growing your own food and providing for your family. But equally, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing your hard earned efforts being devoured before your very eyes. It’s like the pests know exactly when you’re about to harvest your bounty and steal it just before you can reap your rewards. The saying ‘Just in time’ was coined by Henry Ford and the way the pest utilises this system would make old Henry Ford turn in his grave with envy.
The urban gardener’s main threat comes from insect pests like aphids, leafhoppers, thrips, slugs & snails. Most of these can be easily controlled with some home remedies that anyone can do in relative safety.
Aphids, Leafhopper and Thrips
Aphids, Leafhoppers and Thrips are three of the most common pests that we encounter in our veggie patch. They are all classed as sap-sucking insects with tailored made mouth-parts designed to feast their way through our leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach. Aphids are easily seen by the naked eye; lift up any leafy plant and in most cases you will see them hanging out clumped to the underside of the leaf.
Aphids are unique in the insect world, like humans farm animals for food, ants farm Aphids for their honeydew. It’s this symbiotic relationship that keeps the Aphids protected from their main predator the ladybeetle.
Leafhoppers are clearly identifiable by their tent like body shape and resemble a small cicada, unlike the almost invisible thrips which are only approx 1.5mm in length.
A safe and affordable way to eradicate your garden of aphids and leafhoppers is by wiping or spraying the infested leaves of the plant with a solution of water and dish washing detergent. Mix one liter of water with one tsp of dish washing liquid and for an added kick, add a pinch of cayenne pepper, chili or garlic powder. Then it is a simple process of spraying the infested area with the solution. If an infestation is really bad simply cut away the effected area.
Slugs & Snails
Snails and slugs are the thieves in the night, you come out in the morning to discover that you have large holes in your vegetable leaves and the telltale call sign of that shimmering silver trail to show you who it was.
Keeping your garden bed clear of leaf lifter will help to reduce suitable sites for breeding.
Spending time once or twice a week in the mornings collecting them, then seal in a bag and place in the bin. This will help to reduce the population.
Another handy way is to use lures. Simply place cat or dog food in a bucket that you lay on its side, then the next morning you can collect up the snails and seal them in a bag, and place it in the bin.