August Issue 2011

By | Life Style | Published 6 years ago

Farmers and gardeners have used natural techniques to deal with pests in the gardens since time immemorial. Sadly, now that quick chemical fixes are available, we tend to adopt those instead. But what we need to do is invest our time in experimenting with and practicing the most natural farming methods we can find.

Below are two questions recently posted on the Crops in Pots page that received a lot of attention. My detailed replies to each provide easy organic solutions to the problems. Read on so that you too can add some organic pest-fighting tricks to your gardening tool kit.

fruit-flies-gardening

Dear Zeba,

It seems like a fruit-fly attack. Fruit flies lay eggs under the skin of the fruit. The eggs hatch as the fruit matures, and then larvae start feeding on the fruit. It is a natural wonder in itself, but it cannot be encouraged, as it will indeed make your fruits inedible.

Go for any of the following organic pest control methods:

  1. Grow strong-scented herbs under your trees, such as chives. You can also plant garlic and marigolds around your trees. This will help in repelling the fruit flies.
  2. Treat your trees with organic pest repellents. Add a few drops of neem oil per litre of water and spray the mixture on the trees. You can use the spray weekly. Start spraying before the next fruiting season starts. This will prevent flies from coming near your fruits.
  3. Bag your fruits while they are young. You can use calico fabric for this. Gently bag clusters of fruits on branches when they are young. Bags can be washed and used again.
  4. Pick unripe fruit. This is the last thing I want to do, since fruit that are left to ripen on the tree taste better. But I prefer to compromise on flavour and not on the no-chemicals policy when it come to my fruit.

slug-gardening-crops

Dear Umme Kulsoom,

There are number of things you can try, and none of them involves using chemicals.

  1. Use slug baits available in the market that use organic compounds. Other poisonous baits are deadly for your pets and harmful for anyone who comes in contact with them.
  2. Use citrus or cabbage peels to attract slugs. They will gather under the peelings, and from there you can collect them with the help of tweezers and discard them. You will have to do this for a few days in a row, and then, as their numbers become less, once a week.
  3. Save and use eggshells. A gardener friend of mine recommends using eggshells near the root ball. Slugs and snails don’t like the sharp edges and will stay away from your plants.