Over the last few months, I have noticed that
more people are interested in growing their
vegetables and fruit without using chemical
fertilisers or herbicides. This month we will look
at the pest prevention measures that seem to
work on the allotment. The aim here is not to kill
all insects, fungi and microbes. The majority are
needed for a balanced ecosystem. Natural
predators of troublesome pests are very
effective but there is a limit to the number of
aphids a ladybird can eat. Sometimes they need
a little help.
The predators you will find on the Costa del Sol
include ladybirds, praying mantis and spiders. If
your garden has a decent mix of flowers,
shrubs, vegetables and trees, then these
creatures will find you. Please do not spray
My first line of defence is netting. Small mesh netting
pegged to the ground surrounding a row, supported by
vertical sticks with upturned plastic bottles on top to
prevent the netting sliding down the sticks, keeps
brassicas free of cabbage white butterflies - a prevalent
pest here, and carrots clear of carrot fly. It also prevents
rabbits from eating my lettuce and loose chickens from
Netting does not deter aphids, mites and thrips and once
they have a hold, they are difficult to eradicate. An oil
spray insecticide usually works.
Mix 250 ml of vegetable oil with one tablespoon of
washing up liquid and mix thoroughly. Keep it in a sealed
jar or bottle; it has no ‘sell by date’. Dilute this mix at the
rate of 2 teaspoons to 2 litres of water and spray as soon
as you see any flying pests on your plants. The oil coats
the bodies of the insects, effectively suffocating them.
Garlic is as indispensable in the garden as it is in the
kitchen. I am not sure whether this recipe deters or
eradicates but, since it is entirely harmless to plant and
animal alike, you can use it liberally before pests arrive.
Puree two bulbs of garlic in a food processor with a small
amount of water. Let the mixture steep overnight and
then strain into a ½ litre jar. Add 100 ml of vegetable oil
and one teaspoon of washing up liquid. Fill the jar with
water. Dilute at the rate of 200 ml to 2 litres water and
spray. The mixture will keep for a week in a sealed jar in
Now we come to the big guns. If the first two fail, which is
most unlikely, try a chilli spray. Wear gloves while you
prepare and use this spray and keep your hands away
from your eyes, nose and mouth.
Blend ½ cup of hot chilli peppers with one cup of water.
Make up to 2 pints with water and bring to a boil. Allow
to cool and then add one tablespoon of washing up
liquid. Spray it at full strength.
Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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