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October 4, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Top tips for pest-free veg gardening

Adrian Brocklebank, head gardener at Chatsworth House, recently gave the Telegraph his top tips to avoid, deter and remove pests from you garden vegetables.

The slug solution: grow a sacrificial crop
Adrian recommends having a sacrificial crop to divert slugs away from more valuable crops. He encloses each of the four lower beds in a single row of loose-leaf lettuce for this reason.

He finds that the slugs and snails may creep up on to the raised beds, but then stay happily munching these outer rows and leave his inner crops pristine.
By growing loose-leaf varieties, even if the slugs have damaged the crowns, the plants continue to grow and produce more.

Slugs v plants in pots
Buy a big tub of Vaseline and mix it with equal quantities of rock salt. Smear this around the edge of pots. This keeps container-grown salads and herbs slug- and snail-free.

The answer to carrot fly
If growing carrots on a large scale, circle them in an upright enclosure of Enviromesh, about 3ft high. The carrot fly cannot reach any higher than this and so won’t be able to gain access to your carrot bed and you’ll have pristine roots all year.
With small numbers of carrots, or if you hate the idea of a cage, try a dilution of Olbas oil (a strong-smelling blend of essential oils of peppermint, eucalyptus, juniper berry, clove and menthol) to keep carrot fly at bay. Put three drops into a normal-sized watering can and water your carrots once a week. The smell keeps the flies away.

Cabbage white caterpillars on your cabbages


Adrian’s brassica bed is pristine, with almost no damage from birds or insects. His advice on cabbage white caterpillars is to walk down the rows of your brassicas ideally twice a week, but at least once a week, to check the backs of their leaves.
You’ll easily see the little encampments of bright yellow eggs. Squash these and carry on to the next. If you miss a few and they reach the caterpillar stage, squash these as well.

Pigeons
Protect against pigeons with buzz lines criss-crossed over the beds. Videotapes are better than the standard lines that you can buy. Videotape is broader and more reflective and so ideal.
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