When a plant becomes stressed, from lack of water, sun or fertiliser, they become sick and susceptible to attack of insects and bugs. Sometimes it seems like plants send out an automatic invitation to any unwanted insect invader announcing ‘a party in my patch’, no need to bring anything and leaves and sap are on tap!
It’s Mother Nature’s way of reminding gardeners that they need to care for their plants.
The common offenders are whitefly and aphids (greenfly). Aphids appear on the stems or growing tips of many crops, such as tomatoes, chillies, beans or anything else that takes their fancy.
Whitefly usually hide underneath the leaves of those crops and fly around like mad hatters when disturbed. Both of these unwanted ‘sap suckers’, when left to their own devices, can kill or decimate a plant or in some cases an entire crop.
Slugs and snails muscle in and around the ground under the cover of darkness. Slugs wedge themselves in the centre of leafy crops and gorge themselves silly almost to the point of death. Snails spend their time chewing large holes in leaves.
To deal with these unwelcome insects, slugs and snails, look for a natural bug spray to limit their invasion and decimation. Home-made rhubarb or washing liquid sprays can be used.
Gardening expert Nathan Leggett swears by the natural insect and bug spray called Beat A Bug.
“It’s been around for years but somehow has flown under the radar a bit for no reason other than not many gardeners seem to know about it,” he says. “Those who use it love it and always have a bottle on hand.”
It’s ready-to-use with no messing around mixing up potions or other sprays and, most importantly, it’s safe. It’s a quick point, spray and walk away.
Beat a Bug is a unique blend of garlic, pyrethrum and chilli that, when combined, stops any of the garden bugs in their path. Slugs and snails are stopped dead in their tracks and the winged warriors (aphids and greenfly) are no match for the potent blend.
Pyrethrum is not new. It’s widely recognised as a good natural option for organic pest control. Crudely put, it paralyses insects and is non-toxic to pets and humans.
When combined with garlic and chilli, the results are top notch. Garlic naturally repels insects so prevents further attack. Chilli isn’t a favourite with insects either, as it causes significant stomach irritation and acts as a catalyst to enhance the effectiveness of pyrethrum.
Passionate gardeners who are animal lovers can find it a challenge to strike a balance between a lush, productive garden and a place that pets, children and people can enjoy.
Pet problems mainly occur when cats, dogs or birds eat slug bait or chemical fertilisers, chew chemical bottles or lick or eat weed sprays. In some cases rabbits are fed material which has been sprayed with chemicals that can make them ill.
Many pet-friendly and safe products are organic and/or chemically free.
Slugs and snails are food fighters and they hunt at night, making a mess of fresh salad crops and other soft-leaved plants. Tui Quash is a safe bait as it is not a poison.
Consider an organic fertiliser such as Eco Fert. Compost and animal manure also add nutrients to the garden. Apply in thick layers every few months.
If farm manure or a compost bin isn’t handy, garden centres sell sheep pellets and bags of Tui Organic Compost, neither of which smell, so there is no need to worry about the dog smelling of sheep poo.
Insects and bugs arrive when growing conditions are not ideal and the challenge is to get rid of the bad bugs and keep the good ones.
Some insects, such as ladybirds, are predators and should be kept in the garden.
Bees pollinate flowers which help produce fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes and beans.