“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. ” Alfred Austin”.
Usually by this time of year my enthusiasm for gardening has waned due to the usual influx of pests feeding on my produce. In NW Oregon where I reside, my main challenges are leaf miners, cabbage worms, aphids, and birds. Leaf miners start as tiny white eggs on the underside of beet and chard leaves. After hatching they burrow into the leaves and then consume them from the inside out. Aphids and cabbage worms feast on kale, collards and other members of cruciferous vegetables. Last are the birds that peck on my luscious strawberries. I am an organic gardener so I shun chemical or harmful remedies.
Until some years back I used to heave big sighs and spray the infected plants with my Safer’s Soap. This is a time-consuming task. Then I would have to repeat the process several times in the growing season. After thinking about it, most pests, except for slugs and cutworms, come from above with the host moths laying eggs on the leaves. Birds just like to land and peck on the strawberries. It would make sense to add barriers from above.
I placed bird netting over the strawberries and then I started draping my vulnerable crops in early spring with row cover. To my surprise, it worked. I thought a better, more transparent, and wind-resistant option would be netting.
Off to the fabric store I went to purchase 10 yards of white poly netting. After five years I just replaced it at $1.50 a yard. With a coupon from Joann’s Fabrics, it cost me about $8.50. Now with everything netted, my crops will last on into the fall and winter with no bugs or bird damage. I started late this year for leaf miners on the beets and chard so I had to cull through the infected leaves and cut off damaged sections (throw these into the garbage, not compost to prevent reinfection). Then I turned over each remaining leaf and squished the tiny egg masses. Due the same with the kale but apply spray soap to smaller infestations. This is a bit time consuming but worth it for long-lasting protection and to save your crop. Use clothespins to close the gaps between two pieces of netting. For strawberries, I just lay bird netting over the top.
Now I get great pleasure watching those white cabbage butterflies flying over my kale and collards with nowhere to lay there eggs.
If you haven’t already figured out this strategy, I hope it works for you. Happy stress-free gardening!
Alanna also blogs at byalanna pass.com