Stv help & advice centre

I need help with...

Veg Garden Pests – A Birds-eye View

Well, April has come and gone in a stream of ‘sunshiney days’ as we call them in our household, with many an hour spent outside digging up weeds, preparing the veg beds and sowing a host of different seeds.

As I sat on the patio surrounded by my latest purchase of seed packets, organising them into piles – indoor sowing, outdoor sowing, seeds for sowing now, seeds for sowing later - my partner looked at me quite genuinely and said, “Honey, I think you have a problem!”

It’s safe to say, I am addicted to growing vegetables – even though I may not always be successful! Notably this month, a very large pigeon has taken to patrolling the fence, tormenting the dogs. I went outside one morning to find that someone had been rooting around in my recently sown patio containers. Now I didn’t see whodunnit, but I quickly set about recovering what I could, and covering the pots with bird netting.

But as I looked around the garden, I knew the yearly battle against pests had begun – and all the bird netting in the world would not protect the literal fruits of my labour.

This year sees my first attempt at growing rainbow carrots – something I am really excited about! I decided to plant them in my new raised bed, with a cloche on top to protect the seedlings from birds.

But the pest that presents the greater challenge is the carrot root fly, a small black insect whose larvae feed on the roots and cause the carrots to rot. There is no remedy for this pest problem, so prevention is critical – avoiding crushing the foliage when thinning out seedlings, protective barriers and growing alongside alliums like garlic and spring onions will help.

My cloche provides the ideal framework for attaching a fine mesh or polythene barrier to prevent female carrot root flies from laying their eggs. For plants sown direct into the ground, horticultural fleece is a good option and will also help to suppress weeds.

Also sure to make an appearance are aphids (commonly known as greenfly and blackfly), a group of insects with a very broad appetite. Luckily, aphids are prey to other insects such as ladybirds, but for plants that are susceptible to aphid-borne viruses such as tomatoes and strawberries, insect mesh and sticky traps will be my go-to.

Alas, the most notorious scourge upon the vegetable patch has got to be the slug. There was a news report a few years back that stated a population density of 200 slugs per square metre of garden was moderate. That’s a pretty daunting task when I think about how many square metres of vegetable seeds I’ve sown!

One of the most recommended methods of control are ‘torchlight searches’ – yes, going out in the middle of the night with a torch and physically hunting down and removing slugs from the garden (just pop them over the neighbour’s fence?) That’s enough to test anyone’s devotion to their lettuce, and I can safely say I will not be relying on my 2am motivation to protect my precious greens! Luckily there are other, less laborious methods for keeping the slugs away – physical barriers such as slug gel and copper tape I find the most effective, and are my personal preference over chemical control.

One enemy of the veg garden I recently learned about is the mouse! Apparently, mice have a fondness for peas and beans, and will more than happily wander into the veg patch and treat themselves to a nice green salad. Perhaps a handsome owl decoy on my fence will keep both the mice and Mr. Pigeon at bay!

But if there is one thing I know for sure, the biggest pests I will face in my vegetable garden this year go by the names of Gatsby and Murphy - a border collie that likes to pee on EVERYTHING and a King Charles Cavalier that likes snuffling around in the earth like a pig rooting for truffles.

All the seeds in my garden have been strategically placed with these guys in mind – but my vegetable sowings are still far from dog-proof. Again, physical barriers are a must, and in the absence of any other reliable methods, verbal (censored) admonitions are certain to be part of the pest management plan.

Alex, Product Development

 

Similar Articles...

Also in this section...

A-Z of Pests

A list of all pests from A-Z...

Search
Product Support

Contact STV's Customer Service team

Contact
General FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about STV

Search