Controlling Common Garden Pests

Slugs, snails, aphids, small mammals and other herbivores all have a place in the world — but you probably prefer they'd not choose your garden. Here are natural ways to make your outdoor space less inviting.

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Signs of Attack

Shriveled and distorted shoots, leaves, and flowers are the main signs of aphid attacks. You may also see a residue of a sticky honeydew excretion, which can lead to black sooty mold. Also look for aphids’ white discarded skins, which they shed as they grow.

Aphids transmit viruses, and yellow mottling and color streaks in leaves and flowers indicate possible infection. These tiny insects give birth to live young that immediately start feeding, so soft plant tips rapidly become infested. Pinch off heavily affected shoots or blast them with water from a hosepipe.

Adult female aphids can produce five live babies per day for up to 30 days (Image 1). Aphids can be green, black, or other colors, but all do the same damage if left unchecked (Image 2). Clear infestations with fatty acids or plant oil sprays. Keep a ready-to-use spray handy for spot treatments (Image 3).

Birds and Small Mammals

Mice and other rodents dig up spring-sown seeds in the kitchen garden, and in autumn munch on ripening fruits and gnaw newly planted bulbs. Some birds are also a nuisance, pecking flowers, pulling up seedlings, eating brassicas, and stealing fruit.

Avoiding Devastation

Rabbits, squirrels, and pigeons can lay waste to newly planted beds, borders, and pots. To avoid scenes like that shown, erect barriers or netting, or cover seedlings and pots of bulbs with chicken wire. To prevent cats from scratching in the finely tilled soil of seed beds, lay thorny twigs across the surface, or insert short bamboo canes between crops or flowers. Sow large seeds, such as peas and beans, in pots away from hungry mice, and protect trees and shrubs with rabbit guards. If birds and other animals persist in wrecking crops, sow within a protective enclosure.

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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