Urban Farming: Dealing With Pests

Urban Farming: Dealing With Pests

Last summer was our first at our new rental. We built the chook run in a back corner, where the remnants of an old run was, using the parts of our previous run bought over when we moved. Inside the new chook run were two fruit trees – a beautiful big fig tree and a small, but rather healthy looking nectarine.

What we learnt from our first season here was that sparrows and blackbirds loved both the chook run and the fruit trees.

Now this isn’t rocket-science. We have always had fruit trees, we’ve always had chooks and we’ve always had issues with birds. But never like this! It wasn’t uncommon to see 30 or 40 birds eating the chook feed, polluting their water, getting stuck in the bird netting covering the trees and damaging the fruit.

We managed a good harvest of figs despite the birds, but the pollution of the chook run and general pest that they are meant I needed to do something.

After giving all the trees in the chook run a good haircut we set about enclosing the run with commercial grade fruit netting. It will keep the birds out but is gentle enough that the fruit trees can grow and not be damaged by wire.

The method of enclosing the run is simple – using some lengths of timber secrets across the yard, the commercial grade bird netting is simply screwed down and pulled tight forming a ceiling. There are a few gaps to plug and patch but in relatively quick time it is sealed up.

I have to give a massive shout out to my Father in Law Graeme who came over and finished off the job for me! Without his help it would have remained a half finished job for some time no doubt!

The fig tree is just budding now so time will tell if this method works to save both the chooks and the fruit!

– Jono

Four Organic Ways to Protect Your Brassicas From White Cabbage Butterfly

Four Organic Ways to Protect Your Brassicas From White Cabbage Butterfly

One of the things that happens to nearly everyone’s cabbages, cauliflower, kale and broccoli is the attack of the White Cabbage Butterfly (Pieris Rapae). Here are four organic solutions to the damage these creatures reake on yiur brassica crops each year.

Solution 1: Net Your Crops

This is one of the ways I have chosen to deal with them this winter. I constructed a netting tunnel using some posts, irrigation hose, cable ties and orchard bird netting. The concept is simple – the butterflies can’t go through the netting to reach your crop. However it must be constructed immediately to avoid larvae being laid on the plants prior to construction.

To say I am impressed with the result is an understatement! My broccoli this year look the healthiest I have ever seen with huge green leaves and beautiful primary heads!

Solution 2: Sacrificial Crop

The story with this solution is that te butterfly will choose one crop in particular over another. Plant a two crops a distance away from each another and one crop will be attacked more than the other.

This is not going to always work and your good crop (which is determined by the butterfly on your behalf) will have some damage to it, but hopefully not too much! This is another good method (along with the netting solution) if you are adverse to killing the butterfly. If you are not adverse to killing them and want to use this method you can also pick off te larvae from each crop and squash them or feed them to your chooks.

Solution 3: Organic Spray (Success2)**

Some may not like this solution even being on this list. But it is organic.

This method kills the butterfly and larvae. Success2** is a Naturalyte insect control made from naturally occurring soil bacteria. It is diluted and sprayed on the crop when you find mature eggs and newly-hatched larvae. Applications can be repeated at 7-14 day intervals if required.

Solution 4: Landcress

Landcress is a small plant which is toxic to the white cabbage butterfly and it’s larvae. The butterfly is attracted to the landcress over other plants and eats the toxic leaves. Please note, landcress is not toxic to humans and it’s peppery leaves can eaten as a salad green.

This companion planting method does work but you may find some damage to the leaves of your crops. I am currently trailing this method on the Urban Farm and have seen some damage due to the slow growing of the landcress which has been planted after my brassicas.

I hope this helps you control this damaging insect without using nasty chemicals (I realise some of you may put the Success2 spray in that category anyway). Do you have any great organic solutions to this pest? I’d love to hear what you do in the comments below.


**Please note I am in no way connected to the Success2 brand or company and do not benefit from them in anyway. I currently do not even use this product in my garden.