Organic pest control

by Adam Pasco

Parts of my garden have resembled something of a battleground this year. Why is it that all my favourite plants and crops have their very own pest to contend with?

Pheromone trap with mothsParts of my garden have resembled something of a battleground this year. Why is it that all my favourite plants and crops have their very own pest to contend with? Grow lilies and you'll be hard pressed not to find lily beetle munching them. My greenhouse cucumbers always succumb to red spider mite. Hostas act like a magnet to the local snail population.

Well, I'm not having this! I've been fighting back, organically of course, especially on crops I'm going to eat or feed the family.

How disappointing to bite into an apple or plum and find a maggot inside (perhaps disappointing isn't quite strong enough). But how satisfying to hang a sticky pheromone trap in your trees and catch the culprits red handed, so to speak. They're out there, getting up to no good, but rarely ever seen. Now you can catch them, and the gruesome evidence brings a big smile to my face. (It can't only be me, surely?)

I invested in a Plum Moth Trap and Apple Codling Moth Trap in May. These comprise of a green plastic shelter (bird-proof I'm told), a very sticky glue card plus a specific phermone capsule. This sex pheromone provides the lure to attract male moths to an untimely end, hopefully before they've done the deed with any female moths. No grubs inside the happy gardener!

One thing this season has taught me is that prevention really is better than cure, and this is a prime example. Delay control until later in the year and the damage is done, but hang up those pheromone traps early and you can hopefully look forward to pest-free crops. For once the gardener comes out on top!

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Talkback: Organic pest control
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Gardeners' World Web User 01/09/2007 at 21:07

Yes Jennifer I've had exactly the same happen to my Bishop of Llandaff. Good idea of yours for the cloche, I'll definitely try it.

Gardeners' World Web User 29/09/2007 at 09:12

Can anyone tell me how long an adult vine weevil lives?

Gardeners' World Web User 29/09/2007 at 10:10

Yes all this is fine for apples and plums but - do you know of a pheromone trap for pear midge? Last year I did not spray and my crop was destroyed almost totally. This year I sprayed at petal fall being careful to do this late in the evening due to my bees (I am a beekeeper) and I have a huge crop of pears. Pear midge seems to be little known but is a bad pest in this area of Norfolk and was also bad in Northampton when I lived there.

Gardeners' World Web User 29/09/2007 at 11:45

This sounds like a great idea Adam. If I grew apples or plums I would definitely try it. However I discovered the down side of organic pest control this summer. In early May and mid June I invested £20 a time in nematodes for slugs. I waited for the right conditions to apply them - dull and damp but not too wet - then set too and watered all my borders and tubs with them. Then, on each occasion, just as I was feeling smug in the knowledge that I would be enjoying a slug free summer, the heavans opened and.... well we all know what happened next, especially here in Sheffield! and the nematodes were washed away. The result is I have had my worst summer ever for the dreaded slugs, they have even been eating plants that are guaranteed to be slug free. My borders look like a battle field. Ah well, as Alan Titchmarsh would say, there will be another summer along next year.

Gardeners' World Web User 29/09/2007 at 19:51

I feel that life is too short to lift dahlias, even on clay soil, even in Scotland. I mulch them with peat free multipurpose compost and stick a bell cloche over them. They seem to survive with this treatment. A Bishop of Llandaff that was previously reliable failed to appear this year which surprised me because last winter was mild. I finally dug it up today and it is very much alive but the shoots stop just at the soil surface. I have a bumper crop of slugs and snails after the damp summer and I suspect that this plant gets chewed off every time it raises its head above the parapet. Next plan? Copper ring, same mulch, same cloche.

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