When we got here the previous owner had left some insecticide, fungicide and herbicide for us, but we wanted to try and do things organically. While we were sorting this out we did use the chemical insecticide as we desperately needed to do something (we were being eaten alive!).
So we then switched to neem and essential oils for pest control and used these over the summer. It became a much more pleasant job, as to spray with neem and essential oils you don’t have to wear overalls, mask, hat, goggles gloves and boots. You can airy fairy around in shorts and t shirt with the spray pack on your back – lovely. But, and it’s a big but, it just didn’t work. Maybe these things work in an urban garden, but out here it just wasn’t effective. You have to spray every 10-14 days using organic methods vs every 3 months with non organic. The cost of neem and other oils is horrific to spray every two weeks vs about €30 a year non organic. Add in that we were still being eaten alive and it was getting hard to justify the organic route.
Apparently there is an effective one, which while it’s not totally organic, is much less harmful than most, so we’re going to get the name of that and give it a go.
Over the next couple of years our planting plan should help as we become more of a permaculture site – planting insect repelling plants in the right spots should help, but this won’t happen overnight. And growing so much fruit is always going to attract loads of pests!
In the meantime we are doing a light spray with the chemical stuff, but using insecticidal soap with neem on our vegetables. We’ll see how we get on!