Look closely and you'll see...

Look closely and you'll see...

Yes, thankfully our garden is teeming with wildlife and mostly we encourage that, but some of it is less welcome.  This means that sometimes my destructive tendencies are accidental (such as with the slow worm), but at other times I take on the role of defender of the garden and have to take action to control the unwanted creatures.

This shouldn't be on anyone's to-do list

This shouldn't be on anyone's to-do list

Slugs

The last three years have all had pretty damp summers, and so we’ve been having a bit of a plague of slugs…apparently.  Certainly our experience last year would justify that.

Trying to be organic meant that blue pellets were mostly out (there are organic versions but you can only use them a few times before they affect the soil’s chemistry), we don’t appear to have any hedgehogs (yet!) and other than finding and removing or killing them, there’s not much you can do.

We had tried the Nematodes (currently here, but if not search for “NemaSlug”) with some success but I’d taken to almost-nightly sorties of slug squashing in the moonlight.

This year, we started the Nemotode treatment earlier and it’s been much more effective.  We’ve seen hardly any of the smaller slugs, and only recently have we started seeing a few – though it should be pointed out that those we have seen have been HUGE!

Ants

We did have some ants last year, but they’ve multiplied in a big way this year, nesting on the veg patch and munching our lettuce roots as well as causing plenty of lumps on the lawn.

Again, there are Nematodes for these and we’ve used them with slightly limited success.  Other strategies of little bait stations and boiling water have helped too, but no one strategy seems to work completely.

Perhaps experience will help us out next year.

For now I take some hope in the fact that we have had “flying ant day” this year – or maybe that’s to come.

Caterpillars

Again, not something that was a problem last year, the caterpillars have been probably the worst pest this year.  Possibly our planting of brassicas (cabbages and broccoli) this year initiated the problem.

It started with small holes nibbled, which led to us finding some small, bright green critters crawling on the underside of leaves.

There is no real defence (except, maybe, attracing as many birds as you can to get them eaten), so we started daily checks and squashings.  Though it seemed that the more we squashed the more there were.  We just couldn’t get rid of them.

The Very Hungry Caterpillars

The Very Hungry Caterpillars

Then they start growing and so squashing starts to get on your conscience.  Killing a large and very squishy caterpillar seems cruel in comparison to the smaller loss of a tiny baby thing.  The larger ones also seemed to migrate to from the red cabbages to the green broccoli where they were better camoflagued, but then they got brave too and started crawling on the tops of the leaves.

They infested the cabbage hearts and made a huge yucky mess (they seem to make a LOT of poo or something greeny-browny and sludgy).

Yes, these things do turn into beautiful butterflies, but the larval stage of this creature has annoyed us no end.

I don’t really remember seeing lots of butterflies – maybe it’s one of those things that you only notice once you care about it – but there’s been huge numbers of cabbage whites flapping around this year.  My hopes for less of these things next year are not high.

Cinquefoil and bindweed

Already mentioned…not all of the pests in our garden are animal in nature.  Fortunately the cinquefoil and bindweed were mostly eradicated from the veg patch when we dug it over and pulled all of the deep roots out.  There’s some around the edges but it’s easy enough to control.  The same goes for the borders, so it’s only really the lawn that it’s tricky to remove it from.

Next Year?

This year we’ve had some new critters: caterpillars and bindweed in particular.  As we make our garden more suitable for growing, it also seems to become more suitable for some pests.

Next year we hope to see even more growing.  I desperately hope that that the numbers of our enemies shalln’t be going the same way.