Generally my approach to controlling garden pests is to let Mother Nature do her thing. But she can use a helping hand now and again. A good time to do this is in winter and early spring before everything gets established, to reduce pest numbers during the growing season.
Generally you wouldn’t consider lichen to be a pest. In fact it is often said that lichen on trees is a good indicator that the air is really clean. My plum trees are 50 years old and I’ve often enjoyed looking at the patterns of lichen on the trunks and the fantails flitting around looking for insects on them. But they were so covered in lichen that it was threatening to smother all the newly emerging buds. So I had a guy come and spray them with Lime Sulphur. Lime Sulphur is an organic approved product that has fungicidal and insecticidal properties as well controlling lichen. It has taken a few weeks but you can now see the trees emerging from their old fluffy white coats and hopefully the buds will soon burst into flower and leaf.
While the guy was here with his ginormous motorised backpack sprayer, I got him to do a clean up spray of organic fish oil over the entire garden to help get rid of any lurking pests that have been doing well this mild winter. It made all the leaves look nice and glossy but there was a distinctive smell of fish and sulphur in the air for a few days.
You can also:
- Clean up leaves that have fallen from your fruiting plants to get rid of any pests and diseases that may be lurking there.
- Pull out as many weeds as you can before they start rampaging over the garden when the weather heats up.
- Put out slug pellets to try and dent the slug and snail populations in the garden.
- Rodent populations can build up quickly, so putting out rat poison in a few places that pets can’t get to is a good idea as well.
Hopefully all of this will help Mother Nature keep ahead of the pests in my new home orchard.