Keeping Your Greenhouse Pest Free

A greenhouse can revolutionize your gardening allowing you to realize greater productivity than you would with open air gardening. With a greenhouse, you are assured of consistent conditions year in year out with no or minimal dependency on the climactic conditions outside. But simply erecting a greenhouse is no assurance of trouble free plant growth - appropriate measures are necessary to ensure that optimum conditions are maintained.

Pests are one of the biggest threats to plants in a greenhouse. In fact, if left unchecked, pests in a greenhouse would be more devastating than a similar invasion in an open air garden. Because the environment is closed, the multiplying pests are concentrated in a smaller area and thus have fewer plants to attack than in an open garden where there are no physical barriers. For the greenhouse to serve its intended purpose, pest control must be at the top of your agenda.

The following 5 techniques reduce the likelihood of your greenhouse succumbing to a pest attack:

a. Regular cleaning - The well-known principle of cleanliness and hygiene being the foundation of a disease free existence, does apply to pest control in a greenhouse. Just like you regularly clean your home, schedule regular cleaning for the greenhouse. Every once in a while, remove every portable object from the greenhouse to perform a thorough clean of floors and walls using detergent and hot water. Pay particular attention to areas that are likely to hide pests such as corners and joints. The thorough clean will also give you the chance to identify any cracks in the greenhouse' structure that may be a breeding ground or the source of pest intrusion.

b. Refrigeration - There are few things that are more appealing to pests than a humid and warm environment. Plan to freeze your greenhouse at least once a year preferably during the winter. The extended cold temperature should get rid of any pests that may have resisted removal by other means. Before you take this drastic but effective step, make arrangements to have the plants moved to another greenhouse or temporary storage.

c. Clean the tools and soil - Dirty or unsterilized gardening tools are a potential source of greenhouse pests. All tools (including brand new ones) should be cleaned, bleached and sterilized before they are put to use. In addition, special soils such as a sterilized potting mix provide even better protection than regular soil.

d. Observe! - Regularly inspect your plants checking for any signs of pest eggs or larvae. Do not take chances. As a general rule of thumb, if you do not know what it is, get rid of it immediately. Your best defence is proactive offence by nipping any signs of pests well before they get a foothold. Any plant already infested should be quarantined and treated separately to prevent pest spread.

e. Bio pest control - Where possible, avoid the use of pesticides especially if the plants in the greenhouse are meant for human consumption. Instead, make the best use of insects that prey on plant pests such as the praying mantis and lady bug.


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