Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Saying no to garden pests

                                       Saying no to garden pests


Be it enlisting the help of your pet or utilizing bio manure, controlling pests in your garden has never been this easy

With the monsoons setting in, you must have noticed an inexplicable freshness in the greenery around you. Rains, the harbinger of life, add an element of magic to your garden too - be it a sprawling one, a terrace setup, or even a few pots.

But monsoon is also a season that spells trouble for your green spaces. The high humidity, constant showers and damp weather can take their toll on your precious plants. Apart from these, another major disadvantage of monsoon is the sudden influx of pests. Be it a rat that nibbles on your veggies and spreads diseases or slugs that damage your plants, garden pests can undo all your gardening efforts in a jiffy. But before you decide to reach out for the chemical insecticides and pesticides, here are a few eco-friendly and safe methods to eliminate garden pests.

Rats, squirrels and some insects make their home in cracks, crevices, discarded pipes and other items. So first, attend to these and close all openings, which could potentially house the pests. As they are shy creatures, it is only when they multiply that we begin to notice them. Snails stick on to the underside of stones and rotting wood. Clear out all debris to send them a clear signal of inhospitality.

Plants need to be pruned as monsoon arrives. This helps them grow better. However, ensure the pruning is carefully done, as pruning them improperly can damage the plant. As the plants receive plenty of rainwater, proper draining of the excess water is essential. This keeps the roots healthy and vibrant. Make sure that there is no stagnation of water around the plants, which attract insects to breed. Delicate plants can be kept indoors or in the veranda to prevent them from rotting.

Next, take assistance of some friendly visitors to your garden that naturally feed on the unwanted animals without affecting your plants. A cat in the compound keeps the rats away. Birds visiting the garden feed on bugs and insects. So, having a birdbath or a small birdhouse will not only add an element of attraction to the garden but also help in pest control.

But beware if you happen have fruit trees around. You may want to protect the fruits from birds by covering them appropriately. Earthworms in the soil make it fertile and feed on the moss and fungi. Beetles or ladybirds, grasshoppers and frogs feed on aphids and other insects. So, encourage the presence of these animals to keep the pests under control.

Plant garlic, onion, mint and dandelions in proximity of the garden. The strong odours of these elements discourage rodents and insects. Some insects run away from peppermint sprays. Sprinkling turmeric prevents ants from raiding the soil and damaging the roots.

Another way is to strengthen the plants naturally and make them pest-resistant is to sprinkle neem powder, onion, garlic, ginger and cardamom peels on the soil. Bio manures like cow dung are very effective and nutrient rich for plants. This not only fortifies the soil but also keeps fungus and insects at bay.

Some infestations call for extermination. Aphids are white, velvety type of insects that cling onto the plants and destroy them. They can be one of the most difficult plant infestations to get rid of. Use a harsh jet of water to dislodge them. As they hold on to the plant by their mouth, the spray of water dislocates them. You can buy beetles from horticultural suppliers and spread them around to eat the aphids away. Additionally, spray neem oil mixed with vinegar and a little detergent on the plants to ward off the aphids. They hate the bitter mix and will not choose your garden as a home.

To eliminate snails and slugs, beer is found to be quite effective. Placing small containers of beer around the garden attracts them to it. They ingest the intoxicating liquid and usually drown in the container. Weeds grow at an alarming rate in this season and eat up space and nutrients, hampering the growth of the plants. Diligently de-weed the garden as soon as you spot them.

And it's time to see your garden flourish!

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