Biological pest control… Urban Farm June 22nd 2014

We all want to grow food without chemicals. Organic farming is definitely the way forward. However, pests such as caterpillars and greenfly can decimate a crop in no time at all. I have just encountered a greenfly infestation in my climbing pea crop and in the two days since I noticed them they have caused a lot of damage to the leaves.

Climbing peas

Climbing peas

`As luck would have it, I had just ordered a small consignment of 25 adult two spot ladybirds (ladybugs for our readers across the pond!). They feed on aphids etc and also breed rapidly so I should have plenty available soon.

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Sadly, I don’t have time to wait as I won’t have any pea plants left! I found an empty spay bottle, washed it out and filled it with 20% washing up detergent and 80% water. I then sprayed all the affected areas. The soapy water appears to kill the greenfly straight away. Don’t spray it on in bright sunshine as it can badly scorch the plant.

Hanging baskets to attract bees

Hanging baskets to attract bees

Lacewings are also handy, for the same reasons as ladybirds and should be encouraged. Pesticides kill all the helpful ‘critters’ and well as the harmful ones and will kill bees and other pollenating ‘friends’ of the garden. I have only found one caterpillar so far but am expecting more so I am constantly inspecting my plants for damage. I squashed that one under foot but I am always looking on the nasturtiums for the little patterns of eggs laid by butterflies and rub them off.

Strawberries do well in the hanging baskets

Strawberries do well in the hanging baskets

Encourage bees by putting a variety of flowers ai hanging baskets etc to have them as regular visitors by the time your beans and courgettes go into flower.

The new greenhouse

The new greenhouse

Meanwhile, my new greenhouse is working even better than expected with everything shooting up and fruiting much earlier than previous years.

unnamed-17Tomatoes already hanging of the vines.

unnamed-20My first attempt at cucumbers is looking good.

unnamed-14The plants are climbing in the greenhouse, just as the text books say.

Lime tree

Lime tree

My lime tree and lemon tree (another first for me) are busy flowering and fruiting.

'Baby' lemons

‘Baby’ lemons

My San Marzano plum tomatoes are flowering like mad!

San Marzano plum tomaoes

San Marzano plum tomaoes

About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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