THE SECRET ART OF SACRIFICIAL PLANTING


By Simon Eade – our exciting new guest blogger from ‘The Garden of Eaden’!

THE SECRET ART OF SACRIFICIAL PLANTING

Although the terminology sounds a little blood thirsty, it is in reality a practiced organic method of protecting your garden plants from the pests that feed from them. This is achieved by the deliberate act of supplying plants that will either attract harmful pests away from, or attract natural predators to, the plants you’re trying to protect.
For example, plant a row of lettuce that you are happy to have destroyed at the back of your herbaceous boarders and this will entices slugs away from your ornamental plants, attracted to the tastier salad leaves. Don’t panic though as the damaged lettuce leaves will soon be out of sight, becoming lost behind the taller ornamental plants as they grow through.

While it’s true that slugs love lettuce, they love marigolds more, so if its salad crops that you are trying to protect, creating a thick border of marigolds will act as a self healing edible barrier. Try using the larger American or African marigold hybrids as this will create a far bulkier defence compared to our smaller English or French varieties

Nasturtiums are great for attracting aphids therefore making an ideal trap for protecting precious roses. Again, plant them as a sacrificial border, remembering to pinch off and destroy the leaves and stems as they become overrun. Aphids will also infest sunflowers, and unlike nasturtiums whose swarming leaves have to be removed, sunflowers can be left alone to grow. Because they are so tough, the aphids cause very little damage and will still produce nice seed heads for native birds to enjoy. Like lettuce, nasturtiums also work well as a trap crop for slugs and snails.

This principle can work just as well for pest animals as well as for insects. For those suffering the constant damage caused by that naturalised foreign alien ‘the rabbit’, plant dill in your borders. This will protect the vulnerable young shoots of many of your perennials as rabbits will ignore the less tasty offerings preferring to go straight for the dill. This way the rabbit will remain unharmed particularly when compared to other commonly used control methods i.e. the shotgun or myxomatosis, and hopefully your borders should remain uneaten. Even without a rabbit problem, planting dill in the garden is also a good idea as it attracts hoverflies and predatory wasps, both of which will feed off aphids.

Fed up with your plants suffering the ragged bite marks of the dreaded Vine weevil? Although named for destroying the roots of grape vines it now seems to prefer a wide range of host plants, in particular Laurels and Viburnums. Try planting polyanthus and cyclamen for control of this destructive garden pest. Vine weevils love to lay their eggs beside these two species, not only making them great for attracting them away from the plants you love, but also for giving you a great starting place to look should you these destructive pests enter the garden.

Aphids on Roses

Vine Weevil

lacewing larvae

A word of warning though if you are intent on spraying for vine weevil, the only product currently on the market that is suitable for their control is Provado, and this contains the active ingredient Imidacloprid. This lethal chemical is believed to be one of the factors in Colony Collapse Disorder, a serious disorder that affects our native bees. It’s absorbed into both nectar and pollen contaminating it with a deadly toxin that affects the bee’s nervous system. Once the nectar and pollen has been taken back to the hives it’s passed on through the food chain continuing to kill yet more bees. As far as shop bought insecticides go, this by far the most dangerous to the environment

So next time you find yourself reaching for a bottle bug killer, consider sacrificial planting and reach out for a packet of seeds instead.

About Simon Eade

Simon trained in Horticulture at Haldow College and Greenwich University. During his gardening career he has gained experience in many ‘fields’ including Site Manager for the prestigious Alexandra Palace Garden Centre. As well as being featured on Ground Force, Sky News, BBC radio and independent TV for his horticultural expertice, he is also an internationally published gardening writer and photographer.

For more information and related articles click onto the ‘Garden of Eaden’ website at www.gardenofeaden.com or blog at www.gardenofeaden.blogspot.com

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  1. Thanks Simon – very cool article! I will personally be trying the lettuce trick in my herbaceous this year

  2. I’m very impressed by this article, and am trying to learn more about integrated pest managment.

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