Healthy soil = healthy plants. Using compost will minimise problems with pests and diseases. Make compost and apply it when planting seed or seedlings as a natural pest control.
Look for ways to manage pests safely. The internet is a good resource to identify and find solutions to any problems you may have. There are three groups that plant damage can be divided into:
1. Physical damage - caused by things such as hail, wind and sunburn.
2. Pests - insects both large and small. The most common damage is from snails and slugs. Also animals such as birds, rabbits, rats and mice.
3. Disease - Fungus, bacteria and viruses. This is where healthy soil is your best friend.
Other helpful strategies are lots of sunshine and good ventilation. Don’t plant things too close together.
The best and easiest diagnostic tool is a torch. Get off the sofa and go out in the night to see what is eating your plants. That’s when most insects are out and about.
The biggest problem for everyone at the moment is the cabbage moths. These bugs like all brassicas, which means any member of the cabbage family. This includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, chinese greens, rocket, radish, brussell sprouts, cavelo nero, and turnip.
Look for white butterflies hovering over the garden. These moths lay yellow eggs on the underside of the plants leaves, which then hatch into green caterpillars that eat the leaves.Control
- With every cold night, numbers are dropping. There will soon be very few left as they prefer the warm weather.
- Buy some mosquito netting as you would use for camping and make a tent of it over your bed.Chemical control
- Buy a product called Dipel (available at nurseries and hardware stores). This is a bacteria that you mix with water and spray onto the plant. It works by attacking caterpillars. It is considered safe and organic.
- Pick off the grubs and rub off the eggs as they appear (not much fun).