Create a Healthy Balance

Help plants stay healthy by providing plenty of water and rich, well-drained soil, and prevent a buildup of pests by planting each crop in a different part of the garden every year. Encourage beneficial creatures, such as birds, hoverflies and frogs, with suitable food and habitats. This helps achieve a natural balance, where predators keep pest numbers at an acceptable level, and there is less need for chemical intervention.

Step 1

Use Control Strategies

Check plants regularly and pick off any unwelcome arrivals immediately. If you anticipate a problem, put a barrier, such as horticultural fleece for carrot flies, in place, or grow companion plants alongside the crop to entice beneficial insects or confuse pests. If necessary, use chemical sprays in the evening when bees and other beneficial insects are not flying. Sticky sheets are useful in the greenhouse, as are biological controls, which introduce a predatory organism to kill the pests.

Step 2

Keep Out Animal Pests

Large animal pests can devastate a vegetable patch overnight, so where you anticipate a problem, the best way to stop them from reaching your plants is to create a physical barrier. Deer and rabbits need fences to keep them at bay, but there are a number of cheap and easy ways of outwitting slugs, snails, mice and birds.

  • Halved plastic bottles with copper tape around the base protect young plants from slugs, snails and birds (Image 1).

  • Netting supported with canes or wire keeps out birds; a fine net separates egg-laying butterflies from brassicas (Image 2).

  • Tightly secured netting deters burrowers like rabbits, which eat roots, brassicas and peas.

  • Horticultural fleece keeps out carrot flies (Image 3).