June is an important month for the allotment or home grower – the risk of frost is now gone and the days are getting longer and hotter, meaning now is peak growing season for a lot of plants and seedlings. Here’s what’s going on this month:
You will be able to lift your early potatoes towards the end of the month and start harvesting soft fruits as soon as they have ripened. It’s also time to start harvesting
Sowing and Planting
Now is the time to start sowing seeds for:
French and runner beans
Remember that all plants are different, so always follow the instructions on the packet. Outdoor tomatoes can now be planted into their final position, and you can start successional sowings of :
Train in climbing beans
Put in supports for peas.
Top dress Asparagus them with soil or fertilizer ready for next year
Keep plants growing under glass well watered
Pests and Diseases
Aphids – spraying your brassicas with diluted washing up liquid will deter them from landing on your crops. You can buy insecticides if you prefer, including a fatty acid soap to spray on the plants.
Carrot fly – a particular problem between May and September when female flies lay their eggs the best defence to cover plants with horticultural fleece or place two-foot high barriers around the plants.
Cabbage root fly– attacking the roots of brassicas, these flies can cause a lot of damage to your plants. Female flies lay the eggs on the surface of the soil next to the stem of the plant. Place a piece of carpet (or cardboard or fleece) around the base of the plant to create a collar, this will stop the flies from laying their eggs on the soil.
There’s no doubt about it: pests can be the bane of a gardener’s life. There’s nothing worse than growing the perfect crop of tomato plants, only to have them demolished by slugs and insects. Chemical pesticides can be highly effective at deterring and removing unwanted critters, however, these can be detrimental to the environment, and other beneficial wildlife. So here are some great eco-friendly pest control methods that can be equally effective.
Netting & Cloches
Pigeons, along with many species of insects, enjoy eating flowers and vegetable plants. Protective netting is a great way of keeping your plants safe and sound, however, there needs to be space between the net and the plant, otherwise, birds may land on the net and peck through it if they can. You can support your netting with bamboo canes or upturned pots, however, cloches and grow tunnels provide a ready-made safety system. This set of 3 Victorian Glass Bell Jar Cloches are a stylish way to protect growing plants.
Companion planting involves growing your plants alongside other species that will disguise the vulnerable plants, or attract predatory insects that feed on pests. This is a great method of eco-friendly pest control, as it is harm-free, increases the biodiversity of your garden, and can also have other benefits such as improving taste and yields. Good companion plants for repelling unwanted insects include dill, fennel, allium, basil, coriander, and marigolds. Check out our full guide to companion planting here.
Sprays have long been used to deter bugs from plants, however, there are plenty of eco-friendly natural alternatives to chemical pesticides. Spraying plants with water or a light soap solution can remove aphids, caterpillars, or similar insects from plants, and creating a herbal water spray from essential oils such as sage, thyme, basil, or rosemary can act as a repellent. You could also spray with a pepper or alcohol solution to deter pests.
Your garden can be a great place to support species of animal that are declining in the wild, and many of these creatures have the added benefit of ridding your garden of unwanted pests. Animals such as birds, hedgehogs, ladybirds, frogs, and lacewings are great at limiting numbers of common garden pests such as slugs and aphids. To encourage these critters into your garden, make them welcome by adding homes such as bird nest boxes, hedgehog houses, andladybird towers. You can also add bird feeders, birdbaths, and leave out bowls of food and water for wild animals.
Many organic substances are great for deterring unwanted pests, and are completely environmentally friendly! Many plant oils can be used as an insect deterrent, along with garlic- you can stick a clove next to your plants to drive unwanted pests away. Slugs do not like the sharp edges of eggshells, so surrounding plants with them can keep them safe from these pesky critters. Beer traps are also a common method of slug protection.
Ultrasonic repellers are a high-tech humane way of deterring a wide range of unwanted pests from your garden. These handy devices emit high-pitched noises that are beyond the range of human hearing but scare away other creatures. They can be used to keep larger creatures such as foxes, deer, and cats out of your garden, but can also be used in your house to deter pests such as spiders and mice. The Advanced Solar Mole Repelleremits low-frequency vibrations into the soil to deter moles from digging up your lawn, and the Advanced Rat and Mouse Repeller combine ultrasonic frequencies with electro-magnetic technology to keep your whole house free of rodents.
It’s the time of year that will make many shudder and sweat – it’s SPIDER SEASON! Spiders have spent the last few months feeding on bugs and insects, and will now be venturing inside to find a mate.
Historically, we’ve seen spider season occuring in the early Autumn. However, in 2018 and again in 2019, we’ve seen spiders beginning their quest earlier than normal – which explains why you’ve found several in your house already. Recent heavy rainfall has not helped the situation, encouraging spiders to make their way inside, and often into our homes.
Why are spiders coming into my house?
Central heating provides the perfect weather conditions for female spiders to lay their eggs before hibernating. Prof Adam Hart, an entomologist at the University of Gloucestershire, explains that 80% of the spiders you’ll see in your homes this season are males looking for female spiders to partner up with.
What to do if you get bitten…
A spider bite typically appears as small puncture marks on your skin which can be painful and result in swelling and redness. The NHS states, “bites from spiders in the UK are uncommon, but some native spiders – such as the false widow spider – are capable of giving a nasty bite.”
If bitten, the NHS advises you to:
wash the affected area with soap and water
apply a cold compress to the swollen area for at least 10 minutes
avoid home remedies such as vinegar solutions or bicarbonate of soda.
Seek medical help immediately if you have any worrying symptoms after a bite.
How to keep spiders out of your home this spider season…
There are numerous made up remedies and unevidenced recommendations that can be found online. These are often a waste of your time and effort, and aren’t guaranteed to work. The most effective way to discourage spiders from your home is to plug in an ultrasonic repeller.
Ultrasound does not harm the spider, it simply causes discomfort through a high-frequency sound that is too high for human hearing. It won’t affect you but for the spider, we compare it to a constant smoke alarm going off – unpleasant and leaving them finding someone else’s home to crawl into. With an ultrasonic device, there is no need for dangerous poisons that could be harmful to pets or children. Our Whole House Advanced Spider Repellent combines ultrasonic frequency with electromagnetic waves, making it even more effective for stopping spiders invading your space.
“I love this product. Mine has worked perfectly for about 3 years now. Bought second one in case this one stops working. Never had any spiders up to now.” 5/5 star rating – Mrs S
“Huge spiders, the biggest I have ever seen, visited daily so I now use these plugs to help. 3 cats uneffected by them and spider numbers greatly reduced.” 5/5 star rating – Trusted Customer
On the whole, people hate wasps. Unlike their furry cousins, bees, they tend to be swatted away and squashed a lot more, the poor things. But wasps are widely misunderstood creatures. Similarly to bees, wasps have seen a reduction in numbers of 50% in the last 20 years. To find out why we should be protecting wasps as well as bees (yes, really) and how you can help, read on.
Why Do Wasps Sting?
I know, I know. Most of you will be thinking, why should we protect wasps? They sting people for no reason. So let’s clear on thing up before we get onto why we should be protecting them – that’s not actually true!
Most people get stung by wasps in late summer, when their colonies are beginning to prepare for winter hibernation. During this time, a lot of the wasps die off, and breeding of worker wasps ceases. The remaining worker wasps are left confused and disorientated by these changes – yes, wasps get confused too! In addition, there is also a lack of food as autumn approaches, leaving wasps in further despair.
Imagine that your whole world has changed, you’re starving, then you are approached by a giant flapping around trying to squash you. We would be stressed too! When a wasp feels this stress, it gets hostile and ends up stinging. Wasps are also territorial creatures, so if you approach a nest, you are also likely to get stung.
Species of Wasp
There are around 20,000 different species of wasp, and most are solitary wasps which don’t sting. The wasp species we are most familiar with in the UK is the Common Wasp. You will frequently see the Common Wasp buzzing about your garden, especially during summer time.
The Common Wasp live in large colonies and build their nests within cavities in houses and roofs. Their nests are constructed from a paper like material, made by the queen chewing on wood.
Wasps as Predators
Wasps are extremely important to the environment. They are vital predators to pests such as greenflies and caterpillars. Without wasps, the overall insect population would be considerably higher and many a field of crop would be destroyed by disease.
They are viewed as a beneficial insect by many farmers, and are increasingly being used as a natural pest control for crops such as celery and lettuce. The use of wasps as pest control also decreases the need for toxic chemicals that are very damaging to our environment.
Wasps as Disease-Fighters
Wasps are also protecting you. Many human diseases are spread by insects that are the prey of wasps.
In addition, a study has shown that one species of wasp could help tackle cancer. The venom of the Polybia paulista species of wasp was found to destroy various types of cancerous cells. It is definitely viable that the finding from further study of wasps could be used in cancer treatment in the future.
Wasps as Pollinators
Although not widely known, wasps are pollinator of many crops and flowers. It is a common misconception that bees are the only pollinators. Some research even shows that wasps are exclusive pollinators for some species of orchid.
Fig wasps are vital in the pollination of figs. Fig trees depend on wasps to make their seeds and distribute pollen. This partnership is something that has existed for millions of years. It involves the female fig wasp burying itself into the fig, and if the fig is male, laying her eggs. The wasp then dies inside the fig. The eggs left eventually hatch into larvae, burrow out and take the pollen with them. If the fig is female, the female wasp pollinates it then dies inside the fig. But fear not – the fig fruit produces an enzyme that breaks down the body of the wasp completely, so you are not consuming a dead wasp when chomping down on a fig!
How You Can Help
The first step to helping in the conservation in wasps is to not get rid of them! In general, wasps will not harm you if you do not threaten them. They may land on your skin, however this will be likely to inspect a smell – wasps have a sense a smell that trumps that of a dog. If you stay calm, the wasp will fly off with no bother.
If you find an active nest on the outside of your house, your best bet is to wait for the queen to vacate then fill the nest with soil to prevent it being taken over by another queen.
You can also help conserve the wasp population by decreasing your pesticide and insecticide use. Wasps shouldn’t be considered pests – they are in themselves a form of pest control, so by killing wasps of, you are going to end up with a lot more pests.
Overall, wasps play an important role in our ecosystem and should be considered alongside bees as from a conservation point of view.
Megan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.