Did you know that an aphid can travel across the Atlantic from the USA to the UK in just 24 hours? Such is the extraordinary and amazing power of nature.
Unfortunately, we’ve discovered this because some of these pesky little blighters have dined out on one of our new elderflower plantations and infected many of the bushes with a nasty virus. Said virus is very likely to have originated in the States, where it is quite common. We have someone coming to help us from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and, hopefully, we will be able to work out a plan to save the plants for next year – possibly by inter-planting the bushes with another plant that is even more attractive to hungry aphids so they chomp on that instead of our precious elders.
It highlights one of the problems of farming organically – we can’t just spray our plants with pesticides in the hope that this will solve the problem. We need all our insects – bees, butterflies, moths, ladybirds – desperately and as our farm manager, Keith says: “The good that comes with all the pollinating and predatory insects is so much more superior than anything you can buy in a can.”
The other problem we are facing on the farm is a massive invasion of slugs. After the wettest summer in 100 years, the population has taken off and as Keith says: “In a lifetime of farming, I’ve never seen anything like it.” The slugs attack the fields by grazing on the new crop as it germinates. They can be as destructive as a swarm of locusts, so on the wheat fields we use a very mild dehydrant to deal with them.
If you’ve got a problem with slugs in your garden but don’t want to put down slug pellets, then a mug of stale beer sunk into a hole is a very effective way of knocking them off!