Saturday, March 24, 2007

Give Peas a chance

Hip, hip and huzza! Little green things are seeing the light of day now in the potting shed, full of promise for the season ahead. Tender, unblemished innocents unfurling, stretching up and fluffing out. Little do they know of the dangers that are lurking in ... The Great Outdoors! Squadrons of pigeons have fixed their beady eyes on the garden and the SAS (slugs and snails) are licking their lips(?) in anticipation of the salad days ahead. The overwintering eggs of assorted hostile forces have been incubating in record warm temperatures this year. For my brassicas - cabbage whites, whitefly and the cabbage mealy aphid form the axis of evil (axis of weevil?). And last year they took it in turns attacking my brussels sprouts. The RHS advice page on the cabbage mealy aphid warns that "the heaviest infestations occur from mid-spring until mid-autumn". Er... so, that would be all summer long then? I think that the mistake I made last year was to put a mesh around the sprouts early on to keep out the birds & butterflies (an exclusion zone), and all it did was keep the natural predators from feasting on the aphids. By the time I noticed them the first of the invasion force had already raised several generations and retired to condos down the stem. Trying to squish them all at that point without damaging the leaves is tiresome and not very effective. Is there any natural deterrent for these beasts? I don't buy into chemical warfare or scorched earth tactics.

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