How to Protect Potato tubers from Eelworms

Encouraging beneficial insects to grow in your garden is much easier than you might think! Before rushing to apply chemicals to ward of unwanted potato tuber pests, like Eelworm, perhaps it’s time to consider some biological or cultural control techniques instead?

First earlies accent new potatoes

Spring sunshine and warmer winds are welcomed by gardeners the World over, not least the vegetable gardener who is keen to start tilling the soil in preparation for planting tubers and direct sowing vegetable seeds. As the soil begins to dry out and warm up with the heat of the sun’s rays, underground stirrings are not limited to cultivated plants. Improved soil and air temperatures also encourages insects and bugs to search for food, hunting out a tasty morsel is the number one priority of many garden pests.

Potato tubers are a rich source of starch for insects that have woken from a dormant state ready to devour plant material and begin producing the next generation of larvae or offspring to infest your garden soil.

Gardeners of old have tried and tested several cultural methods to limit the damage caused by eelworms and beetles.

Various concoctions of homemade drenches and chemical washes have been used in the past to kill insects with little regard for helpful critters in the garden. I have heard tales of Jeyes fluid used as a kill all drench for clearing garden soil of all pests and beneficial insects.

Thankfully these dates a lot of the old methods are vanishing in favour of cultural methods that work at both minimising the effect on the environment and encouraged healthy pathogens instead of destroying all insect life dead!!

One such method for controlling Eelworm attacks on Potatoes is the humble newspaper! A simple sheet of the daily news shredded or even wrapped around the potato tuber will both protect an early attack from crawling soil borne insects and as the newspaper break down quickly, it also encourages beneficial insects who feed on the decaying newspaper and increase the humus content surrounding your newly rooted tubers.

Newspaper has found it’s way into many gardens as a mulch, layers of used newspaper spread out to suppress weed growth and retain all important moisture, whilst encourage beneficial insects to feed on the newly enriched soil.

Learning how to control pests and diseases is a crucial element to a multi-faceted hobby or career in gardening, by adopting cultural techniques into our garden maintenance programme, we can all play our part!

It’s important to remember that we all have an earthly obligation to minimise the amount of dangerous substances we apply to our soil and disperse into our life giving atmosphere.


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