Wednesday 5 November 2008

Keeping pests at bay - or not

I don't have a philosophy over many things (too much else to do to sit and contemplate my navel), but I kind of have a philosophy towards gardening. That is - I enjoy it, I enjoy my garden and I enjoy the plants in it. And if they're not happy I'm not happy.

My attitude towards pests is - get in quick and stop them before they take over. So, I like to 'walk the garden' - often after work to rewind and more often than not with a glass of wine/beer/gin in one hand (gardening is meant to be enjoyable, you know). I'll look closely at plants that are known to be subject to pest & disease attacks, looking under leaves, at growing tips, flower buds and the rest. I'm now so good at this that I can spot a pest problem at 500 paces. By doing this as often as possible, pest and disease problems rarely get out of hand and if I see a problem I can use my organic pest control - my forefinger and thumb - either to squash a pest or to remove a problem leaf.

But, if I do miss something and a problem has got out of hand then I'll want something to zap it to knock it on the head as soon as possible. I try to be organic, but not to the detriment of my plants - if I need to use a zapper then I will.

So imagine my disgust, fear and hatred when I heard that due to EU legislation nearly all garden (and professional chemicals) are probably going to be removed from the market. This includes just about every chemical we have in our arsenal - including the tried & tested weedkiller glyphosate. Basically, it means that the only thing you'll be able to use as a pest control in the garden is a couple of house bricks to squash them with!

The gardening industry has been lobbying local MPs and MEPs to ask the powers that be to rethink their draconian attitude to this. It's not only your garden that will suffer - you're going to be so worse off; without some chemical controls the cost of producing plants by nurseries (and your supermarket fruit & veg) will rocket and, with the possible recession/credit crunch, this is going to dramatically reduce the amount of free cash in your wallet/purse for spending on your garden.

A number of peers are debating the issue in the House of Lords on November 11 - so let's hope they ensure everyone comes to their senses on this one. Well, that's my philosophy.