With Nematode against pests

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Spring has officially started and the weather is warming up, and plants are happily starting to sprout (wish mine were hurrying up a little more). And, obviously, right on cue those pesky pests are starting to appear as well. Now the ever present war between gardeners – me – and pests – them – is about to recommence, after the little lull during winter. So what is the best method for keeping the pests under control? My personal choice would always be an environmentally friendly solution as the whole idea of being a gardener is to build an ecosystem in your garden or allotment which can support healthy growth of your crops, so by introducing a pesticide which kills half of your ecosystem seems a bit pointless really.

A year or so ago I received a sample of the Nemaslug product and tied it out and even though I applied the product later than it should have happened the bed on which it was tried did not seem to suffer from any slug and snail infestation, in comparison to the others. I am now awaiting the delivery of the various products that the press office is so kindly making available to me.

Other forms of Nematode products can deal with Ants, Caterpillars, Chafer Grubs, and Vine Weevils, I have not tried them so I don't know how effective they are, but if the Slug Nematodes are anything to go by then they should be very effective. AS said, am awaiting delivery of most, if not indeed all, of the products. The advantage of the Nematodes is they are a natural predator and will only kill off the pests they are supposed to. So the ecosystem is effectively boosted in its ability to deal with one pest.

Later in the year as it starts to warm up you may have problems with Whitefly in your green houses or Poly tunnels, and there is a Parasitical Wasp called Encarsia Formosa which is brilliant at killing the off. It's not a big yellow and black stinging wasp but a tiny twitchy little black wasp which quickly dispatches the whitefly. But if you have whitefly out in the open you won't be able to use this option as they will just fly away. So another option is to take some Tin Foil or bright white polythene and place it on the ground around the base of the affected plants. This will help to reflect the sunlight onto the underneath of the plants and Whitefly hates light.

Now when it comes to carrot root fly and also cabbage root fly and others that like to get at carrots and cabbages it would appear that last year I may have found the answer. And it is: Grow the crop at height, in old abandoned shopping carts. Slugs also don't like that as they hate conductive metals.

Another good way to keep slugs out is copper strips, though I know that some people have not found them effective. While I don't know what people's problems were I found that you have to find a way that the slugs cannot get last the barrier by using a leaf of the plant that touched the ground reaching over the barrier. And even better prevention is to use two thin copper strips all around the boards of a raised beg, for instance, affixing some wires and a little box containing a 9V block battery. The slugs will try crossing that barrier but once and never again.

When it comes to black fly the only solution, bar chemicals, that I have found to work is soapy water (Fairy Liquid/water mix) in a spray bottle.

So far the only thing that is popping its head above the parapet in the garden are the leaves of potatoes, the early planted ones, that are sitting in a Potato Pot from Lakeland. Everything else is still going slow. But I am sure that the slugs and snails are already trying to work out how to get to those potato leaves.

Well, the battle is about to commence. Good luck all of us.

© 2011