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THEM PESKY PESTS!!

There can be little doubt that one of the most disheartening facts of gardening life is the endless battle with pests.  They seem determined to undermine any attempts the gardener makes at improving his or her plot.

June is the month when sales of pesticides – which includes weedkillers, insecticides and fungicides – reach their peak.  The reasons are easy to see conditions this month are ideal for the growth and increase of weeds, pests and diseases.

Having decided to use pesticides, the beginner venturing into our garden centre might be a little bewildered by the choice on offer.

The choice of weedkillers is very much dependant on whether the gardener wants a fast acting contact weedkiller or a slower acting systemic action weedkiller which will kill very deep rooted weeds.  For a fast acting weed killer where the ground can be replanted in a few days use Tumbleweed.  If problems with ground elder, couch grass or other difficult weeds persist use Tumbleweed Original Extra Strong.   Both of these products are available in ready-to-use sprayers, or for larger areas in concentrate form and both are broken down on contact with the soil.

The same principles apply when using insecticides, for a quick acting spray use a contact such as Ultimate Bug Killer, in order to control insects on plants with a contact spray it is necessary to spray frequently.  The systemic insecticides however do not need to be used so often as their mode of action ensures that the chemical is more persistent.

Chemicals in conjunction with cultural controls will ensure that pests are reduced and plants are not devastated by the ravages of plagues of insects.

Firstly, choose plant material wisely.  It is always worth paying a little more for a plant from a reputable source as it is less likely to be harboring harmful pests, diseases and viruses.  Ask at the garden centre if the plants have been grown in compost treated with Intercept or Provado which controls major soil and foliar pests including the very damaging vine weevil.

Choose resistant varieties where possible, for example some roses are resistant to mildew and many vegetables are resistant to diseases such as varieties of parsnip are resistant to canker, carrots to root fly etc.

Planting on the correct site is helpful.  Inexperienced gardeners often make the mistake of choosing the wrong place for planting according to the needs of the plant.

Pruning properly is very important by not leaving snags, which may rot back allowing diseases such as canker and botrytis to develop.

Next, good cultural hygiene should be considered.  For example controlling weeds which often provide the primary source of infection for rusts, greenfly, mildew and red spider mite.  These should be killed and removed regularly and rotting leaves and other debris removed and properly composted.

Feeding and watering adequately is essential, this reduces plant stress and will lessen the possibility of attack from

Pests and diseases.

Despite these precautions the gardener is likely to find that before long left to their own devices, pests, weeds and diseases will build up and chemical measures may be required.

For those gardeners who prefer a natural pest control the use of Levington Nature’s Answer Natural Pest Control which contains natural pyrethrins (extracted from the flowers of a member of the chrysanthemum family) can be used to control red spider mite, greenfly, blackfly, caterpillar and thrips.

Some products can be mixed or come as blended products for dual control, such as Levington Nature’s Answer for combined control of many insect pests and for the reduction of powdery mildew.  Use Rose clear on non-edible plants, to help control many insect pests, black spot, powdery mildew and rust.  If anyone doubts the necessity of controlling pests, here are a few facts, which clearly illustrate the need.

It has been estimated that a single Fat Hen Chenopodium album (a common weed of gardens and allotments) can produce 70,000 seeds in a season and each seed can survive in the soil for 30 years.

If weather conditions were conducive and predators were absent, in theory one greenfly could give rise to 60 billion greenfly in a single year and each of those greenfly is capable of transmitting 24 different viruses to it's host plant while feeding.

Fungal diseases produce millions of spores from each site of infection, which can travel a good distance away from the source.  Spores of certain species can survive for more than 20 years in the soil.