Bottle cloches
Biological control
 Enviromesh insect barrier
Pests and Crop Protection

Unfortunately there are any number of pests from carrot root fly to crows who all seem intent on eating our precious fruit and vegetable harvest. There are a number of ways in which we can protect our crops.

It is also worth protecting young plants from wind damage as Slopefield is often a very windy site.

BARRIER PROTECTION

Create cloches using fleece, enviromesh, bottle and bell cloches, cold frames, copper ring barriers, and various gauges of bird and butterfly netting.

Enviromesh, fleece, cold frames, bell cloches and copper rings can be bought online at www.twowests.com

BIOLOGICAL CONTROL

Is the use of natural enemies to control pests by introducing predators such as ladybirds, lacewings, hover flies, parasitic wasps  or pathogenic nematodes that infect the pest with a fatal bacterial disease. This technique is generally used in greenhouses and poly tunnels but some biological controls, including pathogenic nematodes, can be used outside.

Slug damage in particular can be minimised by the use of Nemaslug (a nematode pathogen) which can be watered into the soil every 6 weeks. Nemasys Fruit and Vegetable Protection can be applied every 2 weeks and is effective against carrot root fly, cabbage root fly, onion fly and cutworms.

Nemasys nematode products can be bought online at www.nematodesdirect.co.uk

Beneficial insects can be bought online at www.greengardener.co.uk

The following plants need to be protected the most and especially while young.

BRASSICAS - cauliflower, sprouting broccoli, calabrese, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbages, rocket, land cress, turnips, swedes, kohlrabi, water cress and pak choi and need to be protected from a range of pests including slugs, snails,, cabbage white butterflies, pigeons and crows and are best grown under a fine mesh such as Enviromesh.

ALLIUMS - onions, shallots, garlic, leeks and spring onions can suffer crop failure if onion fly are active in the area but this can be prevented by using Enviromesh or Nemasys Fruit and Vegetable Protection.

LEGUMES - peas, mangetout, dwarf French beans, broad beans and runner beans are much coveted by mice, pigeons and crows and need to be grown under netting. Plant young pea plants out under small bottle cloches to protect the young plants from wind damage.

POTATOES - if planted early in March should be planted out under fleece to prevent frost damage and nearing harvest time should be netted to prevent predation by crows which dig up the tubers and allow light into the drills turning other potatoes exposed to the light green and poisonous.

GREENHOUSE AND POLY TUNNEL PLANTS - such as tomatoes, peppers, chillis,cucumbers and aubergines can suffer from infestations by whitefly, green fly, red spider mite, and others. The introduction of beneficial insects such as Ladybirds, Hoverflies, Lacewings and parasitic wasps  can control insect infestations over a longer period of time than pesticide controls and doesn't harm other insects.

Beneficial insects can be purchased online at www.greengardener.co.uk 

CARROTS AND PARSNIPS - should be grown under Enviromesh to prevent crop failure due to carrot root fly or use Nemasys Fruit and Vegetable Protection.

SOFT FRUITS - strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blue berries and other soft fruits should be netted to prevent bird predation.