Home Garden problems, pests, diseases

Garden problems, pests, diseases

When gardening goes wrong: fighting pests, diseases and adverse weather organically

Grazers eco-friendly Live and Let GrowEven the most experienced gardener will have problems with pests and diseases, not only on themselves (sorry, shouldn’t judge everyone by my own standards) but also on their plants.

If anyone says their garden doesn’t have problems, quite frankly, they’re lying and need to confess all.

There are things you can do to make pest or disease attack less likely but ultimately, we’re all in the hands of the climate/weather/soil type and prevailing bothersome creatures.

Mild winters don’t kill off aphids; slugs stay active and continue to breed, increasing their numbers vastly.

Damp weather also favours gastropods (slugs and snails) and downy mildew but when it’s too dry, powdery mildew will set in on vulnerable plants. You can’t win.

Keep your eye on the forecast

The best you can do is know your average weather conditions and watch the forecast to see if there are any abrupt changes in the short term and prepare accordingly.

If you’re hardening off plants and there’s a sudden fall in temperature (always happens here in May), plants will be set back or even die – see here for plant hardiness ratings and cold protection.

Also, extremes of rainfall, leading to drought or flooding and waterlogging are increasingly becoming problems – there’s no such this as an ‘average year’ any more.

Of course, there are not just wild pests and weather-related problems to contend with – our pets and the birds we encourage can be a complete pain in the ass at times.

I love my cat George dearly, but I’ve lost so many plants because he thinks any newly-cultivated area of soil is a litter tray for him.

I swear that cat can defecate on one leg, avoiding numerous spiny branches I try to protect things with.

Stringing you along…

Birds in the garden I like, but the masses of hedge sparrows/house sparrows and dunnocks around nick every bit of string they can around nest building time, much to my annoyance.

There’s also wood pigeons, probably the world’s most idiotic birds.

They make a beeline for broad bean/runner bean shoots especially, so I use a giant inflatable eyeball and a model bird of prey to keep them on their claws.

There’s also the question of organic v chemical treatments – I think the vast majority of us want to be organic.

Do some people use illicit pest killers?

I also suspect many so-called ‘organic’ gardeners out there are secretly using Napalm (or its equivalent) for their perfect plots, probably the very folk who say their gardens don’t have problems.

Accept things are going to go wrong. It’s a part of the bigger picture (see Monty Don’s views on a Buddhist approach to gardening).

My biggest pest battles are with snails, red lily beetle, vine weevils and powdery mildew on susceptible plants.

Grow a few extra really easy plants in pots to fill in gaps. No-one will notice.