Stop eating my harvest!

Garden Life

Tips from Sarah the Gardener

You’ve worked hard all summer in your garden and all the digging, weeding and watering has paid off and your lovingly tended plants are rewarding you with their harvest. An abundance of tomatoes, zucchinis that turn into marrows in the blink of an eye, pumpkins growing bigger by the day and crunchy carrots forming deep within the earth. There are so many delicious pleasures to be found throughout the garden.

However, you are not the only one anticipating the harvest.  There are other creatures eyeing up, not only the crop, but the plants themselves.  To ensure you get what you deserve, the garden can become a bit of a battlefield and it helps to know your enemy. 

The top ten pests you are likely to find lurking in your garden are:


They love tender new growth or plants that are weak and struggling and will suck the life out of them. To make matters worse, ants can farm aphids and will therefore encourage them to feast upon your crops. It doesn’t take long for one to become many, so treat as soon as you spot them. Squishing, or a blast of the hose can easily dislodge a few, but a spray with the right product can take care of bigger problems.

Carrot fly

This one is only a problem for carrots but can make quite a mess of them.  It uses its sense of smell to find carrots and lays eggs nearby.  The worm hatches and burrows into the flesh, creating tunnels throughout the carrot also causing poor growth. To avoid this pest, take care when working around carrots with thinning, weeding and harvesting to avoid unnecessary damage. Planting onions or chives near your carrots can mask the scent, or you could use a horticultural fleece cloth as a barrier. Apparently, carrot fly can’t fly upward so a physical barrier up to 60cm high around your carrots should keep them safe.


Caterpillars of various kinds will all enjoy eating your plants and produce before moving on to the next phases of their life eventually emerging as butterflies or moths.  Check your plants regularly, especially on the underside of leaves, for eggs and simply rub them off.  You will know you have a problem if you see holes in the leaves and droppings about the place.  You can pick them off or spray them with a product designed to take care of them safely.


They are more of a problem at the beginning of the season after you plant out your seedlings.  They come from a moth that lays its eggs in the soil and upon hatching heads straight for your seedlings and fells them like a lumberjack chopping down a tree.  They only operate at night, so it can be hard to find the culprit for your severed seedlings.  You can protect them by popping physical barrier, like a tube, around your plant. 

Leaf miner larvae

These pests live inside leaves creating crazy patterns on the leaves as they burrow through them. Remove affected leaves and destroy them, preferably with the leaf miner still inside. Sticky yellow traps hung above the plants can catch the adults flying about. 

Green vegetable bug

AKA shield bug or stink bug populations increase as the summer progresses and they are indiscriminate in their food preferences.  Squishing is a satisfying way of controlling them, however when in distress they release a stinky smell as a warning to other green vegetable bugs. If you have too many a suitable spray may be the best option as they can cause a lot of harm.  They can introduce disease, cause scarring or irregular shaped fruit, and cause the plants to wilt. 

Slugs and snails

They are, by far, the biggest pest in spring, making seedlings disappear without a trace. In the summer, they can still wreak havoc by hiding among the leaves and making the most of plants and fruit they can sink their raspy teeth into.  There aren’t many tried and tested remedies to control them, but the garden can be kept safe with slug and snail bait when used correctly.


They are at their worst in hot dry conditions and find stressed plants an easy target.  They can be a problem in greenhouses, but also in the garden during a hot dry summer. They are tiny insects, smaller than 2mm so it is hard to spot them as they lay hundreds of eggs and suck the sap from vulnerable plants.  It is easier to notice the effects which are white mottled leaves and stunted shoots and flowers.  The best way to tackle them is to break their life cycle by regular spraying with a product suited to controlling them making sure it is safe for edibles. 

White cabbage butterfly

These are almost synonymous with summer as they flit about gardens all summer long in large numbers.  However, as brassicas are their target crop, they can wriggle their way into the depths of your broccoli or cauliflower taking an unwitting diner by surprise or reducing your cabbage to lace.  You can protect your crops with a net over the top, check for eggs or caterpillars every day and remove them or use a product designed to control caterpillars on edible crops. 

White fly

They are most often found in greenhouses, but in the right conditions can also become a big problem in the garden, creating a large white cloud of bugs when disturbed.  They are a small 3mm long white flying bug and will suck the sap from your plants.  Due to their short life cycle, alternating between different sprays will take care of them and prevent them becoming resistant to one treatment or another.

You may or may not encounter all of these in your garden, or in your lifetime.  Some seasons, the conditions may be perfect for some and they appear in an overabundance and for others it doesn’t suit them at all and so you will hardly see any. 

Let the battle begin…