Q&As/Gardening with Children/Child Safe Plant Care

Question

At our childcare centre we grow our own vegetables in large garden planter boxes. How can we protect plants from insects without using pesticides?

Answer

The key to pest management is monitoring your garden regularly. Use this opportunity to involve the children as your garden monitors! Get them to inspect the plant and undersides of leaves (particularly broccoli, lettuce, silverbeet and spinach) and remove any green caterpillars, slugs, or snails. Use homemade techniques such as beer traps or the barrier method to eradicate slugs/snails. Children can help make the traps by digging a small hole in the soil just big enough for a saucer or jar to fit snugly with the lip of the jar level with the ground. An adult can fill the jar with ½ cup of beer; the slugs and snails are attracted to the sweet liquid and will fall into the trap and drown. For the barrier method, let children place a protective barrier of crushed bark or shell around the inside of the planter box and plants. To treat aphids in summer, give the children a hose to wash off the aphids 2-3 times a day for 3 days to discourage the bugs from sticking around. Strong and healthy plants are more resistant to pests and diseases, so apply side dressing of Daltons Vegetable Fert, or for an organic option, apply Daltons Organic Compost. 

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