We often get asked for gardening tips, so have decided to do a weekly post describing things we do to keep our garden going well with bugger all effort.
Here’s this week’s…
Vegetable plants can be very useful even after we’ve eaten the good bits. Many of them are in the Brassicaceae Family and have white or yellow flowers with four petals. Letting them flower can attract beneficial insects that are either predators of pest bugs, such as Hoverflies or pollinators of that plant and other plants around it.
Letting one or two plants or live beyond the stage when they are harvestable, especially when they’ve already started to bolt, can create lures for pests that would otherwise munch on your good plants. We’ve found that some bugs seem to like the taste or scent of plants that are ‘past it’ over the younger, more succulent new seedlings. Maybe they sense that all of their energy has gone into reproduction and there is less for defense?
The beautiful Pak Choy flowers in the pic above are a deadly lure for for the little pests in the pic below…
All I need to do is pinch off the affected part with the bugs on and feed them to the chickens.If you don’t have chooks, pest control is a great reason to get them. I can’t really imagine a productive garden without chooks any more.
That said… my preferred option is to take it a step further and use the aphids to attract predators such as Lacewings and Ladybugs to your garden. It can take nerves of steel to wait while a few pests start nibbling on your choice seedlings while you wait for the predators. The first season I tried this, I broke under the pressure and resorted to more drastic forms of pest control. If you can make it through the loss of part of your first crop, you will be rewarded with the presence of many bugs, the larvae of who will devour more than their fair share of pests. Red Spider Mite was a curse at Ligaya Garden for the first two years until the predator numbers built up and they knew where to come first for their dinner. Now, when I see the signs of Spider Mute, I also start looking for the little black dots that mean that a particular kind of Ladybug is around and then shortly after that, see all kinds of predatory larvae.
Even allowing some weedy plants to hang around can be of similar benefit. Some weeds such as Sow Thistle, which is around at the moment make amazingly effective bug traps and leaving them around the edges of the garden can lure pests before they get to your prized Brassicas. They will lure Whitefly and Aphids away from your Cabbages and make them easy to dispose of. Nasturtiums and Watercress are two, now feral, plants in our garden that we use as lures. The Nasturtium is also a lure for the white Cabbage Moth.
Use what you’ve got to stay one step ahead of the bugs to help you avoid the use of poisons on your garden. Sometimes it takes a bit of thinking and some patience but I reckon it’s a better way.