When you are growing plenty of plants to eat it can be particularly disheartening to find that other creatures are helping themselves to your hard grown crops. Now I don’t mind sharing the odd fruit or veg in the garden, I can hardly complain if a hungry creature needs to feed its offspring, but I do object when they munch the whole bunch of beans (just leave some for me) and I get pretty upset when they invade my greenhouse. I’ve never been good at killing anything, even bugs and slugs, and though that may be a shock to many gardeners, I do believe that everything has its place in the food chain and the greater cycle of life. So when the bugs invade I don’t reach for the chemicals. Pesticides aren’t clever enough to know that I don’t want the aphids but I do want the hoverflies, the bees and the lacewings. Pesticides destroy many beneficial creatures that get in their path and they also deprive other creatures of a meal. In the garden a plague of aphids provides a healthy meal for long tailed tits, ladybirds and hoverfly larvae. But the greenhouse is a man made environment where nature is not in complete balance, I have created an artificial environment where many pests can thrive and prosper without their natural predators. And even though I leave the windows open for easy access to all creatures at this time of year, the balance can and sometimes does, become a little lopsided.
When I am away at the flower shows the greenhouse plants are left with self-watering trays and devices to keep the compost moist. That’s great in hot weather, but if the sun goes in the compost often stays too wet and fungus flies have a field day. Add to that the arrival of some unexpected plants just before Chelsea, bearing some additional and uninvited guests and very soon, in my absence a little colony of aphids has built up too. Now these critters are quite amazing and I do admire their take-over bid, but I don’t want to share my salads, beans, courgettes and more with them at all. The greenhouse feast is for my chosen guests and not these hungry bugs. And still I find it difficult to spoil their party. So now the battle lines are drawn and as always I have my favourite secret weapon to hand. A quick call to Green Gardener, a family run business that supplies biological control mail order, is the simplest, kindest and fastest way to remove these gatecrashers from my precious plants and my private greenhouse. I can’t recommend their dawn to dusk help line enough and have lost count of the rescue remedies they have speedily despatched to my greenhouse in need over the years. And so, in response to the latest message of distress, arrives neat packages of bug busting agents. All naturally occurring, all organic and all effective and speedy too. It’s a great lesson for beginners and children. In the natural world, for every problem there is a solution, for every pest there is a predator and for every creature there is a meal. By choosing to introduce natural predators you increase the populations of these beneficial creatures and provide them with a food source, a safe habitat with shelter and the right conditions to breed. For gardeners this is a win win scenario. For the dratted fungus flies a sprinkling of Hypoaspis onto the affected compost quickly deals with the problem by eating the fly larvae and for the aphids that are merrily munching on the dahlias, courgettes and tomato plants a two pronged attack is planned and dispatched: introduce two biological controls, Aphidoletes and Aphidius. Aphidoletes is used for large aphid colonies on a few plants. It’s is a naturally occurring midge, the larvae of which feed on a large number of aphid species. Aphidius is used for small numbers of aphids spread over a number of plants. Aphidius is a naturally occurring aphid parasite and it is capable of attacking over 40 aphid species. Special mixed packs are available.
Greenhouse gardeners all over the UK should know about Green Gardener (01603 715096), they offer a safe and effective way to keep glasshouses free of problem pests. They are real gardeners that have the answers to your greenhouse and garden pest issues and they care about the planet.