Like all living things, plants have their enemies. The gardener’s job is to prevent and cure problems to ensure a healthy garden, without harming the environment- and there are some interesting old techniques to try.
Each plant is different and it is essential that you get to know your plants so that you recognize if they are in distress and can then rapidly remedy any problem.
When your plants are not getting what they need often discoloration to the foliage of the plant. Also the plant's growth will slow. It will not be growing the way it was and there will be little to no new growth. Also, the plant will seem to be more sensitive to the amount of water it is getting, as well as increased sensitivity to heat and cold. If a plant is getting too much fertilizer, then sometimes the leaves will look scorched, although this is not a problem when using natural mulch from a compost pile.
There are specific gardening soil deficiencies that have specific symptoms, which if diagnosed, can allow the gardeners to rectify the problem and bring their plants back to health once again. If the plants have a calcium deficiency the leaves of the plant will look hook shaped and the tips of new growth will die without seemingly without cause. To fix this problem, mulch needs to be added that is calcium specific and the plants will soon be back to normal again. Another deficiency that has noticeable attributes is magnesium. If there is a magnesium deficiency the leaves of the plant will turn a yellow colour. Epson Salts will normally rectify this issue.
Wash off aphids: If small plants or shrubs are infested with aphids, sprinkle them with wood ash or talc. The next day hose down the plants that have been treated.
Prevent pests from climbing tree trunks: Grease bands placed around trunks at 30cm from the ground, prevent climbing pests, such as the wingless females of the winter moth, from reaching the branches. Apply the bands from October to January, then the moths emerge to lay their eggs.
Welcome useful insects: Beneficial insects, such as ladybirds and lacewings, which feed on aphids and other pests, cannot prevent these insects from proliferating but they ease the problem by keeping their numbers at a manageable level. Most helpful insects need flowers to feed on when they reach the adult stage, so offer them the ones they prefer: Compositae (sunflowers, marigolds, asters, cosmos, and oxeye daisies) or Umbelliferae (wild carrots, fennel and angelica).
A bird box for tits is a must: Did you know that just two tits can keep apple maggots in check? Encourage them into your garden by putting up at least one nesting box in a quiet, sheltered spot in the garden. Its main features should be an opening 3cm in diameter and wooden walls 2cm thick.
Aphids on the run: Aphids are discouraged by the extreme bitterness of aloe, a plant from hot desert regions. Dissolve 1g of aloe resin (available from a herbalist or hardware shop) in one litre of water and use a large paintbrush to cover the trunk and branches of vulnerable trees with the mixture.
A sex trap for codling moths: The caterpillars of codling moths can decimate your pear, apple and plum trees by burrowing into the mature fruit. You can buy traps baited with capsules that give off pheromones - synthetic sexual substances similar to those given off by the females - capable of attracting male codling moths from a great distance. Use these from April to August to catch the male moths and reduce the mating chances of the females.
Trap flies: If a swarm of tiny flies billows up as soon as you approach your pelargoniums, gerberas or busy lizzies (Impatiens) then white flies have probably been up to no good!
The young larvae of these tiny insects eventually weaken plants by feeding on their sap. An
alternative to using insecticides is to put out sticky yellow cards to trap the flies.