Tips from the trenches: how seniors can to protect their garden from pests
Posted on: 19 May 2016 by Alan Philpot
As we age, the last thing we want to do is spend our time dealing with nuisances. Learn about the ways seniors can tackle or prevent dealing with those pesky garden pests.
An ongoing battle for gardeners is waged against the pests that live in our lawns and feed on our plants. Different pests pose different threats, with foreign species causing particular havoc as they thrive on our shores, so there is a variety of tactics you can adopt to protect your garden, from chemical measures to barriers and other non-toxic techniques.
Pests to watch out for
The pests that have a detrimental effect on your garden vary in size and type, from foxes and rabbits that dig up your lawn to the tiniest insects that feast on your plants. The plants you grow and the area you live in will have an effect on the visitors you attract. If you don’t catch them red-handed, the evidence should be fairly clear and you should be able to work out what you’re dealing with based on the damage and the affected plants. For instance, holes in plant leaves suggest insects of some sort, all of which can be dealt with in the same way (more or less). Even birds can be a hazard, especially if you grow fruit or seedlings.
The easiest way to stop pests ruining your garden is to deny them access to it in the first place. You can keep out larger animals with a fence and netting (for birds), but row covers and cloches may also need to be used in order to deter insects. Row covers will tend to let in enough light for the plants to survive, but cloches will need to be removed during the day so the plants don’t overheat.
A particular danger for young plants is the cutworm, a small caterpillar that feeds on plant stems at ground level during the night. You can make collars for your stems that you slip over the top of the plant and press into the ground – this will deny the cutworms access and keep your plants safe.
Growing trap crop
This is especially effective if you grow vegetables and other plants intended for human consumption in your garden. In order to prevent insects getting to your plants before you do, you can plant “trap crop” designed to snare them and allow you to destroy them. Whether you use the same species or different species like sunflowers, you should time it so that they come into flower before the main crop does, thus attracting insects like stinkbugs, aphids and beetles well in advance of the main crop maturing.
Once the insects have arrived, you can deal with them however you like – for instance, it wouldn’t be an issue to use pesticides as long as they’re kept away from the main crop. You may also pick them off the plants by hand and dispose of them elsewhere.
Try pest-repelling plants
If you don’t want to have to deal with pests in large numbers (this can be particularly tricky when dealing with wasps), it might be worth exploring pest-repelling plants as a means of significantly reducing the number of visitors to your garden. Marigolds, petunias, geraniums and chrysanthemums are commonly used in flowerbeds, while herbs like parsley, coriander, basil and thyme can easily be incorporated into a vegetable patch. Each plant will only repel certain insect species, though, so it’s important to check that you’re covering as much of the spectrum as possible.