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Chewed up veggie patch

I HAVE a big problem with pests in my veggie garden. For two years my beans and peas have come through and as soon as they set their first leaves they are attacked and eaten, or the leaves and stems are chewed. I also find that silverbeet and some herbs have lots of holes chewed through the leaves. This appears to happen overnight. I have sprayed with Maldison, pyrethrum, and Shield, but to no avail.


THE culprits could be any one of several pests, with slugs number one on the list. Slugs hide during the day - in crevices in the soil, among decaying plant material and in damp, shady spots - to come out at night and do their worst. And they don't always leave a tell-tale slime trail.

Try sprinkling a layer of sand around your seedlings, as slugs don't like crawling over it. Or use slug bait.

There are also several soil-dwelling beetles, and in warm parts of the country young crickets, that could cause this type of damage. These can be trickier to control. I'm not a great fan of the widespread use of soil insecticides, as they can affect all insects in the soil, many of which are beneficial, so my first recommendation for controlling beetles and crickets is to keep the soil well cultivated. Fork and dig well before sowing seeds and regularly hoe the surface layer to keep it well broken up, which deters these pests. If all else fails, you could try using a soil insecticide such as Soil Insect Killer granules or Diazinon, which comes in both granular and liquid form. Follow the recommendations carefully.

For crickets, you can make an effective bait by soaking barley or wheat in some spray solution of Maldison or Target and sprinkling it sparingly around the affected area. Make sure you wear waterproof gloves when handling the bait.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 163, 2005, Page 28

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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Last updated: October 25, 2005