You are Not Alone

You are Not Alone

Just when you think it is safe to walk around the garden, brew in hand to inspect and admire your efforts, you notice a gnarled shoot on your lupins. Suddenly your roses look sticky, holes are noticed in potato leaves and your lily buds are nibbled.

Nature at its nastiest. Your garden may need a helping hand.

pests on plants

I fully understand the do nothing approach to pest and disease control. Leave well alone and eventually things will even out, a balance will occur and everything will live in peace and harmony. You’ll have to learn to put up with a bit of background damage but that’s OK. Your freshly dug and filled pond will attract in frogs that in turn will eat the slugs. Your companion planting will keep some bugs away and limit others. Good gardening practice will help enormously - clean up and clear away for a better garden. All lovely. If you can wait for the balance.

Then there's the organic approach. ‘Nicer’ chemicals that are all labelled organic so OK to use everywhere in the garden. They make you feel good- only emotionally, mind, as nothing should be ingested from a bottle housed in the shed (except that homemade sherry) - and at the same time kill off the nasties. They can also kill off the good guys. Collateral damage. A tricky one.

Then there are the shock and awe chemicals. Developed and tested over years to kill off aphids, whitefly, slugs, snails, mildews, rusts, blackspot and so on. Everything can be exterminated using a tried and tested garden chemical. But is it right? It’s certainly an emotive subject.

organic vs chemical

To be perfectly honest, there isn’t a right answer. That lies in your gardening principles. My own principles are open to a mix of them all. I’ll clear away diseased leaves from beneath my roses to prevent re-infection by blackspot; I’ll prune out dead branches to prevent diseases from spreading; I’ll squash young colonies of aphids whenever I see them and I have been known to put surplus beer into small containers, partly burying them in the soil to attract and drown slugs. I grow carrots and onions next to each other to deter both carrot and onion flies (the smell of the onion masks the smell of the carrots and therefore makes both olfactorily ‘invisible’ to their respective bug!) I’ve also used organic pesticides based on horticultural soaps on nastier infestations. I have been known to use slug pellets to protect a lovely batch of what became an award-winning collection of dahlias. I admit to having a ready-to-use spray bottle of chemical aphid killer for when those oozy lupin aphids return.

The choice is yours. You know what you want to do in your garden. You know how far you want to go down the chemical garden pathway: not at all, a few steps or headlong to the next junction. My advice? Study your garden and nip infestations in the bud, whatever tools you use. It will make your gardening life so much easier.