Nothing beats growing your own veggies but at the same time it can be extremely disheartening when you don’t get the Instagram worthy success you were after. Pests can be a culprit by putting holes in your veggies and disfiguring them or even worse, eating so much they just become pulp!
1. Keep healthy well-fed plants
There are various ways to keep your veggies looking and tasting tip top and free from pests. Keeping healthy well-fed plants is a great start. A healthy plant will have strong cell walls, vigorous growth and will be able to put up with a few pesky critters having a nibble of the leaves or a suck of its sap. This starts when planting! Incorporate Richgro Compost to the soil and top dress with Richgro Organics Vegetable & Tomato Plant Food for a slow release of necessary nutrients. I would then feed with a liquid fertiliser, such as Richgro Black Marvel Tomato and Vegetable concentrate every 7-10 days.
2. Make daily inspections
Daily inspections are vital as you’ll notice the arrival of any nuisances and can get on top of them before they gorge themselves, breed and become an infestation. Just a quick once-over when you are watering does the trick. Hand removal of the few you might find is an effective and safe way to control most things. With last Winter’s cabbage and broccoli crops, I found the green caterpillars that turn into white moths a great way to reward my chickens – they loved them! Currently aphids are on my tomatoes and they are too small to pick off so a blast with the hose removes the small colonies.
3. Companion planting
Companion planting is also another way to limit the damage on your harvest. This is the principal where you plant certain flowering plants that attract pests to keep them off your prized vegetables. Marigolds, nasturtiums and geraniums are all strongly scented and their flowers attract insects such as lady birds that feed on damaging pests. Planting certain crops together can also be beneficial as onions will ward off carrot fly and rosemary keeps cabbage fly at bay too. Zinnia is also a great attractor of pollinators which will only increase harvests.
4. Break the life cycle with a spray
Sometimes manual removal or companion planting is simply not enough and you get a larger outbreak of a pest. Breaking the life cycle of these pests with a spray ensures they do not breed and only make the problem worse down the line. As the old adage states, you are what you eat so it’s important to use a naturally based pesticide such as Richgro Beat-A-Bug Naturally Based Insect Spray. It has some great ingredients (chilli, garlic and pyrethrum) that ward off things like aphids, thrips, earwigs, caterpillars and even ants. Spray two weeks after initial application to ensure the population doesn’t come back.
If you do go down the spraying route, it’s important not to apply when you see beneficial insects including bees as this spray is non selective; I find early morning the best time as it also ensures you have time later in the day to check you got them all as it’s fast acting and works within 5 hours. It is also a good idea to give your crop a 24-hour period before picking and eating.
If your fruit trees suffer from fruit fly, Richgro Natural Fruit Fly spray is a great control and deterrent. It is made of garlic and pyrethrum and can be used up to a day before harvesting.
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