Our first of three gardening workshops on 15 October with Michel Thill from Social Lands was very well attended and began with the questions: ‘What is a pest? Are there pests in nature?’ Of course in nature everything is part of the ecosystem, working together to create the overall environment. But in the garden pests are the things that eat or destroy the veg we are trying to grow.
Michel (second from left) talking to the group
Michel explained: ‘The question therefore is how do we encourage the right animals and insects into our garden to help create a balance system? Spreading slug pellets around our crops is not the long-term solution. While they might get rid of the slugs and snail quite effectively, they also kill whatever life is in the soil, even poison the birds that come to eat the slugs and snails, and ultimately contribute to the imbalance.’
Michel talked about companion planting and drew the group’s attention to the nasturtiums we grow around our runner beans to attract aphids. He then pointed out the ladybird larvae on the bean plant that will eat the aphids. So these insects are to be encouraged into the garden! Any aphids that had made their way to the beans were wiped off by hand, and similarly this was the approach with snails – pick them off and get rid of them. Some people in the group were a bit squeamish as to how… But you can avoid having to use this method by putting copper tape around the raised beds, which slugs and snails don’t like to cross.
One of the biggest problems we have at the community garden is pigeons. Last year our cabbages were totally decimated in just one week. We have used twigs, like pea sticks, in the past which worked to some extent. But as a more reliable method the group installed netting. Michel also talked about using old CDs tied to sticks to scare birds away.
Feedback at tea break
The feedback from the group was fantastic, they all felt they’d learnt a great deal and are looking forward to our next workshop with Michel on 5 November about growing winter veg. If you would like to take part in this workshop drop us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more about Michel’s workshop with Bandstand Beds, visit Social Landscapes
This workshop was funded by Awards for All