This year I seem to have been besieged by pests – or as my sister calls them “evil weevils”.
First to succumb were the step-over apples around the vegetable garden. We went on holiday for a week at the end of May and when we came back the greenfly infestation had already taken hold to such an extent that the new growth looked like it had been attacked with a flame gun. It was too late to spray with insecticide even if I’d wanted to so I left it to the birds and the ladybirds, knowing that I’d be able to prune off the worst of it with the summer pruning.
Then the blackfly arrived and attacked the nasturtiums, the echinops and French beans. They became so prolific that almost every plant in the garden has black aphids on it to some extent.
Fortunately I was on the look-out for asparagus beetle this year. Last year I didn’t notice them until the plants were almost stripped bare. I must have picked of more than 50 of the colourful red, black and white beetles and “disposed” of them. It’s paid off because the adults only managed to lay a few eggs and I also picked off the larvae.
I was also on the look-out for sawfly larvae which can strip currants and gooseberry bushed almost overnight. I didn’t catch them straight away because they are so camouflaged, hugging the edge of the leaf, but I spotted them before they did too much damage. I took hardwood cuttings of my red and blackcurrants and gooseberries two years ago and these little plants could be severely affected if the infestation was too severe. I think I saved them just in time.
Every year is a battle against cabbage white butterflies – both large and small. We always tried netting them but the critters always managed to get underneath. Then it became a constant patrol for caterpillars that was time-consuming and disheartening. This year I constructed a huge cabbage cage, big enough to stand up in and simple enough to dismantle and move to another part of the veg garden for crop rotation. It has been hugely satisfying watching the butterflies trying to get in with no success.
It’s also been so dry that any slugs and snails seem to have given up. They also struggle to maraud across the gravel between the raised beds in the vegetable garden so we have been largely spared although they have found there way into the cold frames and finished off a pot of lettuce seedlings…