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June 1, 2019 Comments (3) General Gardening, Podcast

082 : Pests in a No-Till Garden – Myth vs Reality

Episode 82 - Pests in a No-Till Garden - Myth vs Reality

The prospect of an ecologically sustainable organic garden that is presented by the “no-till” or “permaculture” approach to gardening is attractive to gardeners for many reasons: there’s the low cost; the minimal work; the high quality produce; and, the peace of mind that you get from knowing that the way you are growing your food is not a detriment to the environment, or the living things that share the garden ecosystem. With all that having been said, and despite many claims to the contrary – no-till gardens are not pest free – at least not initially. In this episode I discuss the pest problems that I have encountered thus far my garden, an how I deal with them.

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3 Responses to 082 : Pests in a No-Till Garden – Myth vs Reality

  1. ann says:

    My peas are always destroyed by slugs EVERY spring…so I overplant and know I likely will have to replant at least twice. I also have had potatoes eaten to the grown by slugs, but they are stronger and seem to regrow ok.

  2. Jan Grouwstra says:

    Yes, especially this time of year, with most of the veg just starting, pests are a major concern. Slugs and Snails are probably the most common pest problem here too. Personally I believe a certain amount of drought helps them, or they get more active as the weather gets hotter. I don’t think birds do a lot to them at night, so if sunny weather restricts the activity of slugs and snails to the night time, that probably helps them keep safe. I’ve planted some Egyptian walking onions last September, they were fine all the time, but lately they’re being ravaged by small slugs. I hadn’t expected such a slug problem on Alliums, but they certainly liked that variety!
    Small potato plants I do regularly lose to slugs, but I believe the size of the seed potato is key here. Didn’t you like to use large potatoes as seed potatoes? I don’t think I’ve got problems with those as well, but the smaller ones produce smaller stalks at first, so that makes them more vulnerable, and often they can’t produce second or third shoots, like a larger potato will do, even when nothing bad happens to the first shoot.
    Birds can somewhat be a pest, they’ll have a go at peas and beans an even dig out seed potatoes. Most fruit they’re into – the ducks here even attempt to fly into the trees to get to those plums they can’t reach from the ground, which makes for a funny sight, because they’re clumsy flyers. But I don’t consider birds to be a big problem, it’s just that netting is necessary if you want to have a chance of harvesting your berries. I don’t net a lot, so there will be plenty of elderberries, sloe berries, black berries, pears etc. left for birds. Leafy vegetables birds are indeed not into, although I know of reports of pigeons having a go at this or that, but I don’t think that’s happening on a big scale.
    In my home garden, at a very rural place, there are no slugs and snails. I think that’s because of all the mice, they probably would eat any slugs’ eggs in winter if there were any. But I’m also surrounded by water on all sides – a boat is the only approach – so slugs would have a hard time getting here in the first place. Since I don’t have a lot of space here, and it’s dark under all the fruit trees, I do my gardening on an allotment. All common pests are always present on an allotment; there’s always a full-course dinner being prepared every year, isn’t there? The fact that most people on the allotment have a more chemical and industrial approach to gardening is probably not helping me. Anyway the topsoil everywhere is more or less dead, I feel I need to drag a lot of organic matter to my plot to revitalise the soil. Other people are just buying young plants at a garden center – kale, lettuce, onion sets and so on – that they’re maturing at their plot, usually with the aid of synthetic fertiliser. There’s a lot of mechanical tilling going on and the soil is degrading, I’m obviously wanting to reverse that. I’m getting a lot more organisms in my soil immediately, but, like you said, also those pesky slugs, which probably get killed by the blades of a till machine on the other plots, together with the worms, the lizards, crawly insects and basically all other forms of life that would normally be there. But the others seem to have less slugs. I’m just not sure I’ll end up with a better balance in a few years’ time if the allotments as a whole remain a bleak place, and birds won’t come here in any number.
    At least I can see vegetables on the beds where I did a good job thriving again if they don’t get eaten; I’m getting somewhere. I’m doing a lot of perennials as well; once established plants are usually doing fine, so that saves a lot of hassle.
    Anyway, thanks for a good podcast. What I like about it it recognises some real problems and doesn’t come up with ready-made solutions which aren’t really there. I feel understood by this.

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