We've heard from many gardeners that they're having lots of outbreaks of pest and disease problems in their gardens - on a wide range of garden plants.
Although we can always expect problems, it seems that they have started earlier this year than previously. A lot of this can be put down to the mild but damp autumn and winter, and the reasonably warm start to the year. The mild winter means that a lot of pests overwintered successfully and weren't killed by cold temperatures. The warm, wet conditions in autumn and winter meant that slugs and snails particularly have started their never-ending munching march on our plants.
Early identification and eradication of pests and diseases is the key to success. Check your plants regularly – daily if possible – particularly those you know to be susceptible, and keep on top of any problems that do occur to ensure they don’t get out of control. For most average gardens this Pest Patrol will only take around 10-15 minutes - well worth the time spent.
At the same time, you may be able to pick off the offending problem - such as one leaf with rose blackspot - or even kill the pest before any damage is caused. For instance, adult lily beetles are very dozy in the morning and are much easier to catch than later in the day. I go on my Lily Patrols at around 7am!
Left to get on with it, pests can breed rapidly and soon produce unmanageable numbers. Some years ago, someone did some 'virtual', computer-based research on aphid breeding. They set up a 'virtual' average sized garden, with average British weather, the garden was covered so nothing could get in and nothing could get out, no pesticides were used and the garden had no natural aphid predators. At the beginning of the year, they introduced 1 aphid - and were astounded that at the end of the year, this 'garden' had contained a total of 40 tonnes of aphids! So beware!!
Ready-to-use pesticide sprays do away with fiddly mixing and ensure you have something immediately on hand, ready to deal with the problems as soon as they are seen. This way you can make sure things don't get out of hand. I have mine always to hand - just in case.