Not counting stray dogs, curious cats and the neighbour’s children, there are more than 100,000 pests, fungus or insects which a gardener may have to face, although the varieties in the average garden may not run to above 500, and the majority of these may be present in insignificant proportion. The presence of pests to the extent of interfering seriously with the success of the garden is at once a challenge and a criticism of the gardener’s skill. Biologically it suggests that some phase or phases of gardening operations are being neglected.
The best resistance to human disease is a state of vigorous robust health. The ideal conditions of pest prevention and control are established by the cultivation of the essentials of a healthy environment in the garden. We are a long way from understanding why Nature lets loose her plagues upon us, but it is certain that inviting conditions must be present before they do descend.
Cleanliness both in the soil and on top of it, at all seasons, is the garden’s best pest repellent. Insect pests, fungi, and viruses all like extreme amounts of rubbish. Fungi overwinter in diseased plant material. Their spores rest in the soil. Insects reside in and below weeds, around hedge bottoms, and in the soil. Old stick and rotting wood, give cover to slugs, snails, millipedes, and woodlice.
The soil itself harbours many types of fungus spores, insect eggs and larvae. But for their survival these pests need non-disturbance. Cultivating the soil as much as possible before planting, and regularly after planting, exposes the soil to sunlight and its sterilizing rays, and uncovers insect eggs and grubs to the attention of birds notably the ROBIN, who will devour anything you have to offer. Hoeing and weeding during crop growth weaken the pest’s foothold by their constant disturbance.
Aeration plays its part in controlling pests. Damp still air fosters mildew and blight. Proper spacing of plants allows air to circulate, and lowers ground humidity, with advantage to growth. Many pests and plant diseases detest sunlight. Its sterilizing rays are of infinite value in checking blight. Proper spacing, cutting back high hedges, and careful pruning of trees should ensure that every part of the garden receives a daily quota of sunlight.
The wise gardener is alert to the progress being made in the long-term policy of eradicating plant trouble by the breeding of disease-resistant strains of seeds and plants. Some varieties of vegetables have been bred resistant to a disease common to their kind. Certain types of seeds are more resistant in some soils than others. Study of the seed catalogues is amply repaid when it leads to the selection of seed most likely to sprout into healthy seedlings and vigorous plants.
The final recourse of the gardener in his fight against the unending plague of garden pests is to get out the spraying machine and go into action with destroying insecticides and fungicides. Chemical methods of pest control provide only part of the answer to our problems.
Every grower has room for the stick or runner beans in their gardens, these beans are best picked small and fresh about 6-7 inches in length not long and stringy. The growing of stick beans has long fascinated me. We have grown them in all areas of our farm in Herefordshire trying to extend the time we can pick for sale through our farm shops, for many years.
About 12 years ago I hit on the idea to extend the growing and selling time of these lovely vegetables, this process is not new it was used in the 1940s and ’50s by market gardeners until the cheaper alternatives started to arrive from many of the Southern African colonies, but now with the rise in delivery costs hitting all countries the price for imported none G.M. crops is about to go through the roof.
You have the means to extend the growth of not only Beans but all vegetables. The method we use for Beans is late in September cut the bean stem to about 6 inches from the root, stripping away any old leaves, then let the plant sit for about 2 weeks, the area where you removed the old leaves new shoots will start to grow, once the shoots are about 1 inch long the whole plant should be lifted and potted up, the plant will have a large root system so a 9 or 10 inch pot will be needed the plant or plants can be left outside until the middle of October and then brought inside where the frost cannot penetrate, let the plant grows on, staking when Necessary.