Insects are always part of the garden and it’s only natural they’ll want to share your produce! A few holes here and there aren’t a problem, but if you end up with more hole than leaf, then it’s time to take action!
A good approach is to treat one problem at a time, as one solution is unlikely to fix everything. So, the first step is to investigate the garden and identify what visitors you have.
If you find snail and slug trails check under the leaves, at the bottom of the plant and in nooks around rocks, where they might be sheltering during the day. While you’re there, keep an eye out for caterpillars or the poo they leave behind which can help you find them.
Whilst gardeners have relied on coffee grounds and broken eggshells for years to prevent slugs and snails, they are not that effective as physical barriers. Alternatively, try applying copper tape around wooden or plastic beds and pots – when the snails and slugs try to cross the tape, they’ll get a mild electric shock. It is not suitable for corrugated iron beds though, as it can cause corrosion. Copper tape can be found in hardware stores and it has an adhesive backing, but a few thumb tacks will make it extra secure on wooden beds.
If young seedlings are being ringbarked, that’s an indicator of slaters. Cut the bottom out of old plastic pots or bottles and simply place over the plant and push into the ground at least 2 centimetres deep. Slaters are only interested in young pants so you can remove the plastic barrier once the plants’ stems have hardened up after a few weeks. You can even put copper tape around these to deter slugs and snails as well.
A shallow container filled with a few centimetres of beer will attract and trap slugs and snails. Dig the container into the soil slightly so it’s easier for them to fall in.
Even homemade, natural pesticides can be deadlier than you want them to be, indiscriminately killing any insect they come into contact with, such as ladybirds, bees and hoverflies. Alternatively, make a spray that is a deterrent rather than a killer, used in conjunction with traps and barriers. Mix up a spray of coffee and spray it on the leaves of your plants – snails will hate it!
Whitefly can be difficult to control, so Sophie suggests learning to live with them in the garden and dealing with them in kitchen instead. To ensure leafy greens and vegetables are clean and ready to eat, Sophie soaks them in a sink of water with a few glugs of apple cider vinegar, for 10 minutes.
No single strategy is going to work for every garden, so it’s best to experiment and find out what works best in yours. Aiming to minimise pest damage rather than eliminating them is a much easier and safer strategy.
Filmed on Peramangk Country
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