Fight garden pests with a natural remedy

MOST all of us want is the ideal backyard to relax in and enjoy so we have an escape from the rigours of life. We don't want to end up spending most of our leisure time in the garden doing battle with the many annoying creatures which take up residence.

FIGHT PESTS: Having herbs throughout your veggie patch helps fight off unwanted pests.

FIGHT PESTS: Having herbs throughout your veggie patch helps fight off unwanted pests.

Garden pests can be a real problem for each and every one of us. Whether you're an avid gardener or someone who just grows a few vegetables or ornamental plants, using herbs will help you to maintain a healthy, chemical-free environment. It will encourage birds, plant-friendly insects and other creatures, such as lizards, frogs, bees, beetles and praying mantises, to come into your garden and live, where they will devour many harmful pests.

By adopting a herbal pest control regime, the balance of nature is maintained. Simply plant a selection of the following herbs in your garden: angelica, basil, borage, caraway, coriander, dill, elderberry, fennel, feverfew, German chamomile, nasturtiums, pineapple sage, rosemary, tansy and yarrow. Natural predators, such as lady birds, lacewings and native bees, will be attracted to the plants to feed on their pollen and nectar. Herb flowers provide long term food and accommodation for these friendly creatures, since they continue to flower over many months.

To get started, plant a selection of the herbs with your vegetables, fruit trees and ornamentals. In my vegetable garden Italian and French Lavenders not only provide a beautiful scent but also attract bees. There are numerous rosemary bushes, thick clumps of comfrey and tansy, with its bright yellow button like flowers, and yarrow, with umbels of deep pink flowers. Basil grows with the tomatoes, and the silver-grey foliage of the wormwood not only provides a striking contrast but is an extremely useful ingredient in a natural pesticide. And borage grows everywhere.

Quick to flower herbs are borage, dill, German chamomile and nasturtiums. Compact nasturtiums are ideal around the base of fruit trees since they don't spread too far. I have them planted at the base of every fruit tree, providing natural pest control benefits.

Until you achieve a balance between garden pests and beneficial insects you may need to use a pest spray to protect your plants. Put three chopped onions, four chopped garlic cloves and two tablespoons of cayenne pepper and half a litre of water in a liquidising blender. Whirl until thoroughly blended and liquid. Dissolve one tablespoon of pure soap in half a litre of water and mix the two liquids together. Store in a tightly sealed bottle. It’s effective against scale, thrips, mites and aphids.