Have you experienced problems with pests on your garden plants this summer?
Whether you garden on a large or small scale, there’s a very good chance that your plants have been affected by pests at some point. I experience this every year at the allotment, with blackfly on my broad beans and caterpillars on my cabbages, and at home in the garden there’s always an invasion of greenfly on the roses and honeysuckle at the start of the summer. You can see the little critters here on the honeysuckle – yuk!
Plant pests really can wreak havoc in a short period of time; I’ve lost whole crops to them in the past, not to mention the devastating effect they can have on ornamental plants and their flowers. So what can you do about the problem?
A really sensible approach is to do what you can to prevent plant pests in the first place, combined with having a good product at the ready to deal with them if they do become a problem. I discussed a similar approach in my recent post on controlling plant diseases, so if you’re struggling with those too you might want to check it out.
Preventing plant pests
There are a number of things you can try to stop plant pests becoming a problem. The most obvious option is vigilance; keeping a close eye on your plants and taking action at the first signs of infestation can really limit the impact. Keeping your plants healthy and strong will also make them much more able to cope with a small amount of pest damage.
Another option is to create a physical barrier that prevents pests reaching your plants. Things like soft fruit and cabbages can be very effectively protected with netting, and consider also wrapping copper tape around your plant pots, or crushing eggshells around the base of plants to deter slugs. Soft, leafy growth is particularly appealing to the likes of blackfly, so you can limit their invasion by removing this growth; this works particularly well on crops like broad beans if you can pinch out the tips of the shoots as soon as they appear.
It’s also worth pointing out that your garden is probably already home to a very natural form of pest control: namely the insects that feed on the pests. Not all insects are bad for your plants, and some will do the job of controlling pests for you. Ladybirds, ants, spiders and lacewings are brilliant for controlling aphids (greenfly and blackfly), and ground beetles will happily deal with slugs and caterpillars. Encourage the beneficial varieties, and you’ll automatically be helping deal with problem pests.
Dealing with a plant pest problem
If the pests are getting out of control on your plants, it’s time to take action with a product that’s specifically designed to deal with the problem. I’ve been trying out a couple of different options this season: Provado® Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer on my crops, and Bug Free on my ornamental plants.
Provado® Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer is suitable for treating pests on a comprehensive range of fruit and vegetable plants. It kills and controls greenfly, blackfly, whitefly, caterpillars, beetles, weevils, apple and pear suckers, capsids and sawfly, protecting plants for up to two weeks.
I like the fact that it’s ready to use and has a convenient spray nozzle, so you don’t have to fiddle about mixing it or decanting it into your own spray bottle. You simply shake the bottle well, open the safety nozzle and you’re ready to spray.
Ideally you should spray affected plants at the first sign of infestation, covering both sides of the leaves. I’ve spotted the early signs of blackfly on my broad beans, and treated all the plants straight away.
You can repeat the treatment if necessary 7-14 days later, depending on the crop (there are full details for each crop on the bottle). I’ll be keeping a close eye on my other crops down at the allotment, and I’ve still got plenty of Provado® left should I need to take further action.
On my ornamental garden plants I’ve been trying out Bug Free. This an ideal product if you like to garden organically; it’s made from naturally occurring active ingredients and is certified for organic use by the Organic Farmers & Growers.
Bug Free is suitable for use on houseplants and ornamental garden plants. The main active ingredient is naturally occurring fatty acids, which control whitefly, greenfly, blackfly, scale insects, spider mites and mealybugs. As with the Provado® product, Bug Free is ready to use and spray straight from the bottle. The principles of use are the same too; spray at the first signs of infestation, and repeat at weekly intervals as necessary.
I’ve been struggling to control blackfly on one of my houseplants; an infestation appeared just days after I brought it home from the garden centre, and despite several attempts to remove the insects by hand and using water they were still causing a problem. I sprayed the plant thoroughly with Bug Free a few days ago and it’s really done the trick; no more blackfly!
The ladybirds in our garden have been doing a good job of controlling the aphids so far this year, but as you saw in the picture above things are getting out of control on the honeysuckle, so I’ve used Bug Free on that too. So far, the roses are looking good, but I’ll be checking them regularly and using Bug Free at the first sign of any problems.
I think having these two pest control products handy will make a big difference to my ability to look after my plants this year. I’ve struggled to control garden pests on my crops and ornamental plants in the past; when an infestation has struck I haven’t been able to act quickly enough, but now I’ve got some easy to use, effective products I should be able to tackle the problem before it becomes a real issue. I would also say that it’s well worth you checking your plants regularly as part of your usual garden maintenance; a little bit of time spent monitoring can save you so much bother later!
Provado® Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer and Bug Free are both widely available in garden centres and DIY retailers. Will you be giving them a try on your plants this summer?
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