garden insects

Beetroot getting chomped

I recently took a big step after much procrastination and decided to build/plant a veggie garden. It was a bit of work but has proven really rewarding. I’ve followed some friendly advice from the Internet and that of some local gardening enthusiasts and so far it’s working out pretty well. The only snag I’ve hit thus far is an infestation of big black ants which have taken a particular liking to my beetroot (something I was personally looking forward to chomping).

I’m keen to avoid any chemicals and have thus far only taken two measures to protect my plants: As suggested by a mate I planted basil in and around my other veggies and I’m spraying the plants with garlic water (sounds like something out of Dracula!).

How can I persuade these ants to find greener pastures? Any advice?

Cheers. Garth – Westville.

9 replies on “Beetroot getting chomped”

Sprinkle your used filter coffee grinds in the spot where you see ants (and snails), they don’t like it and it feeds soil with nitrogen! See my Novemnber Newsletter for more gardening with coffee.

My daughter crushes eggshells and sprinkles them onto the soil in her vegetable garden. Can’t remember why she does this now, but her spinach crop would rival any Woolworths store’s offering and I’ve never seen a bug on the leaves!

Me again. Egg shells are fantastic for snails (& calcium). Snails do not like to creep over them. Marigolds are so valuable. They assist with nematodes by absorbing them (thow away once spent and plant new ones, unless they have reseeded) and they ‘trap’ aphids (aphids are first attracted to yellow flowers before anything else). In permaculture, plants that perform more than one function are most prized. Radishes prevent attack by certain beetles, and are great in salads.

The coffee trick doesn’t work … I tried it with some snails munching my favourite plant -the next morning I woke up to see snail tracks happily zig-zagging all over the coffee grains and nothing left of my plant.

Brigit, your snails are not playing fair! Perhaps you need to dry the coffee grinds a bit more to make them more uncomfortable to the snails. Try building a small snail ‘razor wire’ fence using steel wool. As the plants grow they will hide the fence. If snails are your bug bear, have you tried beer traps?

Jean, I have tried beer traps. They work well but my snails are smart. Unless I fashion some sort of beer moat my plant has no chance. Sometimes it seems as if they climb up the walls and launch themselves from above…determination at the thought of the delicious plant that lies below?

About chomping the beetroot … here in the northern hemisphere we’ve learnt to eat beetroot in ways other than salad. The wonderful Polish restaurant across from where I work serves it warm shredded with sour cream on the side and we roast them as part of our famous “roast root vegetables with clementine dressing”. Yummy and well worth trying if you want a change.

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