Friday, September 26, 2014

keeping down the weeds... top tips from wes fleming

Spring is in the air, there is a bit of early blossom around, and hopefully the chill air has prepared our dormant plants for a big spring growth.  This year I am determined to keep the weeds and pests down, I have been growing bumper crops of both.  The plants are better established which should help, and I have planted more ground cover throughout the beds.  
I am trying the old newspaper trick - digging over the soil, laying down newspaper which you wet thoroughly, and then covering with a thick layer of mulch.  It should make a thick layer that smothers the weeds, but is permeable to water.  It certainly makes the garden look lovely, neat and tidy, and hopefully it will keep the weeds down and the moisture in as planned.

Pests are a different story though, I needed some help and I am delighted to be able to share some top tips, written especially for Build House Home readers, by Wes Fleming, one of Australia's leading nurserymen.  

Wes Fleming's top tips for dealing with pests in organic gardens:
  • Attract good insects to promote a balanced garden: ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies help control aphids, spider mites, scale insects and caterpillars.  Wes recommends planting marigold, dill, echinacea, sweet alice, coriander, cosmos and Queen Anne's Lace to attract the good insects.
  • Keep bees to promote pollination and for your own supply of honey: (NOTE BY EVA: for urban gardeners this is not just a dream, have a look at The Urban Beehive who offer a hosting service where home owners host hives and share in the honey bounty.)
  • Buy (or make your own) organic pesticides: Most are oil based sprays combined with tea, milk or bi-carb of soda.  (NOTE BY EVA: I am trying a bio oil spray for scale in my hedge, I will let you know how it goes).
  • Have chooks in your garden: they feed on insects and grubs and fertilise naturally with their droppings (NOTE BY EVA: my favourite - a twofer, would love to have chickens)
  • Use green manure: Green manure is cover crops that can be ploughed back into the soil each year to promote health in the garden, a healthy garden will be more pest resistant.

One day I will have to interview Wes about all the Chelsea Flower Show gardens that he has been a part of.  I have been to Chelsea once, it was totally incredible and I would love to go again.  This year I am looking forward to the second Sydney Garden Show - see my video of last years show here.  

But for now its back into the garden, I need a whole lot more mulch and sadly there is a still a lot of weeding to do!!!


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