Tips from Olle Garden Bed: How to Wash Garden Pests in Winter

Winter - I mean decent, cold winter, many frosts - is actually a gospel for gardeners. The trick is to tame the cold and turn it into your advantage. One way is to use it to flush latent pests. Let them be exposed to the frost, and a group of hungry birds, they will have no chance! The combination of biting cold and probing beak will greatly reduce the number of pests and let your plot take a step ahead in spring. The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

raised garden bed

Expose grubs to frost

One of the easiest ways to kill overwintering insects is to find their hiding place and bring them to the surface. The best way to do this on the ground is to rake up and remove the fallen leaves, especially around fruit trees and shrubs, before turning over the soil at the top of several inches (5-10cm). Even if you simply scratch the soil surface with a border fork to disturb the fallen leaves, you can also bring the hibernating grubs to the water surface. In their torture state, they will not go anywhere, and the cold grasp of the cold night can stay to do its work.

When covering thick mulch around winter crops, first peel the mulch. Rake it off in the coldest weeks of the year to let frost penetrate the ground and clean the soil. Of course, you may need to cover some crops (such as parsnips and carrots) to lift them from the ground in cold weather.

There is a balance point here - feed the soil slowly in quiet months, and give it a frost "deep cleaning" in a timely manner in the new growing season. A good compromise is to expose the soil for three to four weeks at the coldest time of the year, and then cover it with mulch.

raised garden bed

The role of birds in pest control

Scratching, turning and uncovering the soil also brought a veritable feast for insectivorous birds. In deep winter, when the ground is hard and there is almost no wild food, a large number of newly exposed fleshy grubs and worms will help our feather friends through a very difficult period.

Additional bird feeding will help keep them on the side. A well stocked bird feeding station will not distract them from the control of natural pests, but will attract more wild tourists, making your garden a local center. More birds in the garden means more eyes and more beaks, which can only be a good thing for gardeners who are tired of pests!

Fruit cages are very valuable in protecting fruit trees and small fruit trees from birds during the growing season. Winter is a good time to temporarily remove the net, so that birds can freely enter the invertebrate snack shop. If you have chickens, you can also allow them to enter. Their curious beaks will roll over the soil surface, ruthlessly rush out and devour the pests lurking below.

Take care when removing the net from the fruit cage. Sometimes, birds such as tits and tits will feed on young fruit buds, causing serious damage, and need to be pruned to encourage the replacement of branches. Therefore, it is obvious that a certain degree of monitoring is required. Once any damage is suspected, replace the network immediately.

Wash pests with winter cleaning

Winter washing is another weapon for gardeners to fight against pests. Winter detergent is a solution based on fish or vegetable oil, which is sprayed on the bare branches of fruit trees and shrubs. Object? Kill overwintering pests, either by contact or by asphyxiation and suffocation. Winter washing is effective for many types of mites and sucking aphids. By controlling these insects, the incidence rate of virus is also greatly reduced - win-win!

The detergent is sprayed in winter, usually using a pumping pressure spray, so you need to wait for a completely calm day to use it (you don't want its clouds to simply blow away). Try to get the best coverage, and spray the washing liquid into every corner and gap. For obvious reasons, smaller trees and shrubs are the easiest to cover. Larger trees can be tricky, but focusing on areas you can reach can still make progress in pest numbers.

garden beds

Weeds removal

Weeds are another hiding place for overwintering pests. It is better to remove weeds from around vegetable fields and fruit trees in winter so that frost and prying beaks can enter and complete the work.

But don't be too thorough. Many seedlings of biennial flowering plants such as Calendula should be left to provide the necessary flowers to attract beneficial insects for the next season - once the weather warms, predators will control common pests. The same is true of lace friendly plants such as ladybugs and nettles. Concentrate on removing seedlings that you know are annual weeds, and keep attacking harmful perennial weeds, such as cayenne grass and ground elder.

By undertaking a pest clearance project, you can help us develop an early warning system for pests. This will expand our knowledge about how communities of garden pests work, and could help us predict how they might affect our crops and gardens.

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