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Natural Garden Pest Deterrents by Sue Perryman

I don't know about your garden, but mine is gradually been eaten alive this Summer by slugs and all sorts of bugs. I refuse to use any chemical products, so have been resorting to the old washing up liquid in water spray for the bugs, but as for the slugs and snails, my plants are an all you can eat buffet.

My nan had heard of my problem through the family grapevine and sent me an article from her local paper, it has some really great tips for the organic gardener, so I thought I'd share them with you. I can't vouch for any of these tips, as I only got the article this week, although my nan swears by the garlic spray, which I am in the process of making.

For generations, companion planting has been used to repel pests as well as attracting beneficial insects who will eat some of the nuisance ones. It might be a bit late for this year but is well worth trying for next year’s crops.

Plant nasturtiums, which are great for attracting pollinators, they also attract aphids and cabbage white butterflies, so be prepared for them to become sacrificial plants to draw pests from other plants.

The old-fashioned pot marigold (Calendula) can be used around any vegetable plants that are attacked by aphids and work on soil pests too.

Basil can be easily grown from seed in early summer, so plant it around tomatoes to deter white fly and other pests. It is said that growing basil close to tomatoes improves their flavour. I've never been able to grow it outside in the UK, but it would grow well in a greenhouse or polytunnel.

Alyssum (Lobularia) can be planted between lettuce and other salad crops to attract hoverflies that feed on aphids.

Herbs such as mint, thyme, fennel, dill and sage should be allowed to bloom as they attract pollinating insects and other beneficial insects like hoverflies.

Plant French marigolds between tomatoes and cucumbers in a greenhouse of polytunnel to help repel whiteflies.

Plant spring onions between rows of carrots as the strong onion scent will help to deter and confuse carrot root flies looking for somewhere to lay eggs.

Grow some garlic, the smell will help repel all sorts of pests, particularly if you bruise the leaves. You can make an excellent pest repellent spray from the bulbs too. Crush the bulbs and place them in a bowl, cover with warm water and allow to steep for 24 hours. Pour into a spray bottle, it can be used on all manner of plants. Repeat every 7 - 10 days, it will make the leaves unpalatable to slugs and other pests.

If you have an ant problem, grow some mint - it deters them completely. If the ants are in an area where you cannot grow mint, some cut mint scattered around will deter them. (You could also try making a spray with peppermint essential oil and water!)

Hyssop, particularly anise hyssop, planted among cabbages will help deter cabbage whites from landing and laying eggs which will hatch into caterpillars that munch your crop.

Lovage is an excellent companion plant for all crops except rhubarb - it is said to improve the health of most plants and is considered 'the magic bullet' of all companion planting.

Borage attracts pollinators and assists the growth of most plants, particularly strawberries and tomatoes, the leaves make an excellent liquid fertiliser or can be used as a mulch.

Chives are also beneficial to plant health as the leaves can be used to make a 'tea' which is good for treating black spot and mildew, as it contains sulphur. The flowers also attract bees and deter cabbage root fly and carrot root fly.

Adapted from an article in the Sussex press by Martin Fish and Chris Smith.

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