We all understand the importance of doing our bit to be more sustainable and reduce our carbon footprint. One of the biggest trends in sustainability today is growing your own produce. When you consider the reduced grocery bills, health benefits of organic food and the positive impact growing vegetables at home can have on the environment, it sounds like a no-brainer.
Growing your own crops is hugely satisfying and many people find the food they grow in their garden tastes better than what they can get from the supermarket. However, home growing takes a lot of time and effort, and when it doesn’t go to plan it’s easy to feel disheartened. One of the biggest disappointments for a gardener is when their crops are coming along nicely but are destroyed or damaged by pests.
Here, we investigate the different pests which can affect your gardening efforts and how to protect your produce from them.
Types of pests
There are a range of different pests which could be detrimental to your crops.
Birds particularly favor cabbage leaves, although they’re also happy to munch through everything from cauliflower to cherries. Early summer is peak activity time for birds, so ensure you set up any barriers like cages and polytunnels soon after you’ve sowed the seeds. There also are a wide variety of insects that will damage or even eat away at your produce. Mites, beetles, caterpillars, flies, slugs, and snails are just some of the common culprits.
Mammals such as moles and rabbits can wreak havoc across your garden if you don’t take precautions to protect it. While moles don’t eat plants, they do like to burrow, meaning they often dig into your growing crops and damage the roots. Rabbits on the other hand are most definitely herbivores and will happily nibble away at your produce, as well as digging holes that destroy your garden.
Let’s explore how you can prevent pests from damaging your produce.
A physical barrier can reduce the risk of larger pests damaging your garden. Ensure any fences you have around the garden are sturdy and remain secure. Destruction of crops by birds can be prevented by growing your produce in a fruit and vegetable cage, while insect infestation can be avoided by using crop covers.
Planting your crops in beds that are raised instead of directly on the ground will also prevent interference from ground-based pests or low-flying insects.
Create an ecosystem that deters pests
There are certain types of bugs that will not damage your crops but will attack the kind of insects that do. Insects such as ladybirds, minute pirate bugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps, and damsel bugs among others will do the job. You can attract these insects to your garden by planting particular plants and flowers.
You can also incorporate plants which omit strong odours or oils and naturally repel pests. For example, basil will prevent whiteflies on tomatoes, while lavender will confuse insects. Introduce these pest-repelling plants amongst your crops and nearby to keep your produce pest-free.