How often have you looked inside a gardening mag or a glossy garden design book and observed torn and munched cabbage leaves, crinkled stems or misshapen fruit on display - never? Well only on the pages devoted to pests. If like me, you wish to pursue an organic regime, you will soon learn that pests are a fact of life. It is impossible to completely eradicate them. And they are all God's creatures after all.
Over the years I have learned that there are some measures you can take which keeps the worst of the critters at bay.
Here's my top five tips for healthy organics.
1. Give the slugs something better to eat.
It may sound mad, but I don't think slugs really enjoy my cabbages. They eat them because there is nothing else yummy in the soil. When slugs are on the surface they are vulnerable to birds, they would much prefer to get down and dirty within the soil. I dig in plenty of rotting kitchen compost before I plant my beans and courgettes. This seems to keep the critters below the surface, munching through deliciously gooy semi-composted kitchen waste, working away for me and turning it into lovely rich loam! By the time they've finished with the compost the plants have grown large enough to withstand the odd predator.
2. Things that glitter
Pigeons seem quite put off by my glittery silver paper "sculptures". I never worry about other smaller birds who do little harm and a lot of good in munching any slugs that do pop their heads above the parapet. On many a morning I've discovered riffled soil and stray bits of straw. That's a sure sign that smaller birds are enjoying the early mornings on the vegplot. I've certainly seen blackbirds up here.
3. Plant seedlings under glass.
The secret to savour fair when it comes to pests is to nurture the seedlings in a protected environment. Sturdy plants, once set out in the garden, will probably survive on their own.
4. Good Companions
Roses for aphids, nasturtiums for cabbage whites, sweet peas for increases fertility and marigolds because they smell funny. I.e. companion panting really does work. (But I find that every so often I have to root out or treat a flower crop, because something has decimated it.
5. Let all creatures great and small have their day.
Life is too short to worry about every wrinkle and crease on my skin or on my vegetables. The odd nibbling creature does no harm to the rest of the crop. Eventually eco-systems develop a balance - so share and enjoy.