Beginner's Kitchen Garden: Protecting Your Garden from Pests and Diseases

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The Beginner's Kitchen Garden Mini Series: Protecting Your Garden from Pests and Diseases


episode description


In episode 6 of ‘The Beginner's Kitchen Garden,' Sarah tackles the main pests and diseases that vegetable gardeners will encounter when kickstarting your very own kitchen garden. Discover all you need to know and the very best, tried, and tested ideas for deterring pests from your homegrown harvest. 

in this episode, discover

  • Different pests and how to keep them at bay
  • Combination planting for the best results 

advice sheet

Slugs and snails

  • Sarah explains that at Perch Hill, they do very little direct sowing, instead sowing into gutters or seed trays. This is because, as soon as the seedlings begin to pop up, the slugs and snails also rear their heads, ultimately killing the seedlings off. 
  • Instead, think of avoiding sowing directly if you do have a large slug or snail problem, as sowing into gutter pipes is just as efficient. 


Companion planting 

  • Companion planting is a great way to keep pests to a minimum. Perfect for fighting things like mildew, it is also effective for introducing good invertebrates, like ladybirds and lacewings, that will eat harmful pests such as



  • Combinations to try include groves of Tagetes patula 'Linnaeus Burning Embers' with tomatoes, summer savory with broad beans, basil underneath tomatoes, and salvia with roses. Flower-vegetable interrelationships really do seem to work. 


Garden birds

  • At Perch Hill, Sarah, and the team greatly encourage birds into the garden. Sarah explains that having a high bird population will mean that the mature birds will be feeding the fledglings in their nest with the slugs, snails, and caterpillars that might be blighting your crops. These also work as an excellent source of protein for the birds that might be struggling to find food. 
  • The finch and tit family will feed up high on feeders, and robins, thrushes, and blackbirds are ground feeders, which means you’ll be covered for all pests.  


Types of pests and how to mitigate damage 

Whitefly and aphids – Incredibly common, you might get these on your crops, particularly on the brassica family. To combat this, try introducing plants like the nicotiana family, or tagetes, like marigolds and calendula.


Slugs and snails – To combat slugs and snails, garden birds are the way to go. If you don’t have a large bird population, try to build one up. Until that time, use ‘Nemaslug’ which is a biological agent that you water onto crops. This will kill slugs most commonly, but also is effective against snails. 

Pigeons – If pigeons are eating your brassicas, try ‘Buzzline.’ It’s almost like cassette tape that vibrates in the wind producing a high-pitched sound that pigeons hate. 


Mildew – Manure and mulching is a great way to keep mildew at bay. Bicarbonate of soda mixed into water with a teaspoon of sunflower oil and soap is also effective. The oil and soap help the solution to stick to the leaves of the plant.


Flea beetle – In particular, wild rocket and salad rocket are prone to flea beetle. If you’re looking for total protection, try enclosing your crops from April to the middle of August. ‘Enviromesh’ or a sustainable and lightly woven netting will help to deter beetles. Or, if you don’t this because it looks ugly, try unravelled fly strip and the beetles will be attracted to the scent, and jump up and catch on the tape. This is a repeat job though, so be patient!