Organic ways to beat garden pests.

Organic ways to beat garden pests.

Permaculture is all about living more sustainably and creating a site that caters for the needs of all its inhabitants…including the cunning, clever pests! I’m more than happy to work with mother nature, oppose to against it, but when it comes to sharing my hard earned work with these little creatures, I simply can’t roll over that easily.  So here is a list of ways to prevent, deter and hopefully keep garden pests off your produce, using no chemicals. Keep an eye on this list and pest problems can change seasonally and I would love to hear any of your tips too!

Snails -these guys are ruthless and no matter what I do, these guys comeback tour never ends!

Beer traps – You can buy a beer trap from a gardening store, fill it with any beer that you aren’t planning on drinking and then watch for the snail, drink, drive and crash.

Crushed egg shells – place these around your plant/seedling, they hate moving over the top.

Coffee Beans – Sprinkle a layer of grounded coffee beans around the base of your plant, they hate the stuff and won’t go anywhere near it. Note: if you’re going to use the crushed egg shells and coffee beans for your seedlings remember to always water first, this not only keeps the eggs/coffee beans in place it prevents changing the PH of the soil too much.

Nasturtium’s – not only can you eat these colourful flowers, but they act as a great lodge for snails and keep the soil moist during the hotter months.

Snail shed – To prevent snails getting onto your plants I use recycled unused yoghurt pots/milk cartons (or anything from the recycling bin that can act as a shield against pests).  Cut the base off and then the top. The bigger the better but make sure it’s at least 10cm tall.  After I’ve placed the egg shells and coffee beans at the base of the plant I place the milk container shield around the plant. Dig a trench around the plant so the pot can sit in the ground so it doesn’t move.  In the warmer months make sure you check the water as the plant can dry out more quickly when using this protection.

Earwigs– Although these guys are enemy number 1 in my garden they are an important ally in the garden. They eat aphids, snails and other slow moving bugs. Their most important function is that they eat coddling moth eggs, which is a serious problem for all apple trees. I’ve tried many methods to deter them and find that the below ways can make a difference.

Earwig Trap’s Place some oil in a plastic container with a lid. I tend to use recycled yogurt pots but you could use anything where you can pierce holes in. Put a several holes in the top (not too big otherwise it easy for the earwig to escape). Once the ear wig climbs into the container they fall into the oil and can’t get out. Check your traps regularly and tip out the oil and start the process all over again.

Organic Tree Guard. Wrap masking tape around a tree and apply some organic tree guard to three quarters of the tape, you create a barrier to crawling insects. This will protect your precious trees from Codling Moth, Elm Beetle, Ants, Army Caterpillars, Cutworms, Earwigs, and many other crawling pests. You can buy Organic Tree Guard from good gardening centres.

Citrus Peel Killer.  I received this next tip from a caller during my radio segment on ABC Local Radio. Keep your citrus peels, enough to dry out and then place in a blender. Place around plant and the ear wigs won’t come near them? Let me know if you give this one a go and what the result was.

Wet newspaper. Roll up some damp newspaper and place around the base of the plant under threat. They hide during the day so collect each morning and put in a sealed bag before you dispose in the bin.

Codling Moth Winter is a perfect time to start to manage this friend of the garden as this is when they hibernate in the base of the tree and in the bark. In spring they pupate quickly and the moths hatch. Here’s what you can do to stop the coddling moth from ruining your fruit. Remove any decayed fruit from the ground and don’t put it in the compost bin to avoid giving them a new place to live.

Chooks – If you can run poultry under the tree’s that have been affected. They eat them all year round and can really help reduce numbers.

Corrugated Cardboard.  If you notice there are still a lot of grubs, it’s because they are pupating in the trunk and branches. Grab some corrugated cardboard and wrap it around the trunks and main branches. It’s best to do this between December and May and make sure you burn the cardboard after you remove it.

Plant flowers – grow plants under trees a pollen and nectar source to attract the Trichogramma Wasp. Flowers you can plant are Daikon, Dill, Coriander, and Cosmos.

Earwigs and Ants – love eating the Coddling Moth.

Traps – Put some Port and Water in a jar with mesh on top to keep out larger insects. You can place these in the trees.

Gall WaspsI had a caller this week on ABC Local Radio ask me how to get rid of Gall Wasps from their lemon tree.  Here are a few tips that might help and autumn is the best time to make a start. Hanging yellow sticky traps inside infected trees from mid-August to trap emerging adult wasps. It looks like a piece of sandpaper and simply hook it onto a branch of the tree.  The wasps are attracted to the yellow and the sticky traps are impossible for the wasp to escape.  Do not leave on after November as the wasps are no longer about and you may inadvertently trap beneficial insects and even small birds. As you see the lumps on the tree cut them off, even the ones that have been exited. If the tree looks like it’s really suffering – the branches are brittle and there is little fruit – then it might be best to cut it back hard. Dispose of the pruning’s in the green waste, bin or compost. Remember to feed the trees in late autumn and early winter instead to promote new growth. Avoiding high nitrogen fertiliser in spring as this promotes soft sappy growth – just perfect for the egg laying stage.  Feed trees in late autumn and early winter instead.