Pest Control, simple and natural
Bugs, bugs, everywhere...
Pest Control can be a problem for anyone growing anything. These little
creatures seem to come from nowhere. Everyone, from home gardeners to
mega-farms face the same problem, only on a different scale.
A little aside....
Natures insect hunter!!
This is one of our resident bats! They fly into our house occasionally.
It is really cool to stand in the center of a room and have them fly around you.
The natural tendency is to duck, but once you learn to trust their radar as much as they do,
just stand still and they will zoom around you like you were a post.
The Big Three...
It seems there are basically three ways to approach Pest Control. They are:
"Kill everything in sight"
"They need to eat too, so I'll just plant more & share, and hope
there is enough left for me"
"They aren't going away, so I'll try to manage them somehow"
At Blackberry Blossom we prescribe to the third alternative of Pest
Control. If you do any research on this subject at all, you quickly
realize there are also many theories on how to do this.
To me, the best philosophy is that of Eliot Coleman. If you are interested
in farming on any scale and are not familiar with this man, you are
missing a real gem of knowledge. His belief is, simply, that strong
healthy plants have a natural immunity to pests. He puts his effort
toward growing healthy plants rather than trying to control pests.
Eliot is a gatherer of knowledge through his and other's experiences,
which he shares through his books and many articles. Check out his
Four Season Farm
By the way, Eliot's wife, Barbara, also has a wonderful book called
"The Garden Primer". It's one of the most complete, concise reference
books on growing almost anything that you'll ever find. The one we own
is the older version, dogeared and well used. I see she has a
revised edition out just recently.
Their philosophy on life and gardening just jive with our own beliefs. It's
refreshing to find someone with the same mindset who's already lived
the path we're on and can share so much, so humbly.
So how else can you attempt Pest Control?
Grow it and they will come...
One approach is similar to the "share" approach, only you share what
you don't really want. Most pests have a preference for one plant over
another. If you plant their favorite plant close to
your favorite plant, they will choose their
favorite plant and ... you get the idea. Success depends on knowing
which plant to put next to what to control with this method.
The opposite approach is also used. Some plants actually
repel certain pests. Planting these repelling plants next to a pest
susceptible plant helps control damage. These last two approaches are
known as "Companion Planting". There are many great resources on
this subject also. Check out Louise Riotte's "Carrots Love Tomatoes" or
visit this page at ATTRA
The Good, the bad and the weird lookin'...
Another approach to Pest Control is to populate your fields or garden with
other creatures which are the natural enemies of the destructive pest.
For instance, Lady Bugs are known to have an insatiable appetite for
aphids. Of course this only works if the pest population is large
enough to sustain the Lady Bugs.
I have read that buying Lady Bugs from a non-local source does not always
work. It has been reported that these little creatures are similar to
homing pigeons in that if the food supply no longer supports them, they
leave and migrate back from whence they came. How do they know where to
go? Good question, but we don't know.
We're fortunate here to have loads of Lady Bugs. In cities and towns which
regularly spray for mosquitoes, Lady Bugs seem to be scarce.
Thankfully, we live in the country.
There are many other "good bugs" who regularly feed on "the bad bugs". Some
are pretty weird looking, like the praying mantis. Below you can learn
all about which bugs are on which side of the "farmer's helper" law.
All of these Pest Control "management" approaches are part the "Integrated
Pest Management" idea. There are many, many resources available on this
subject. It could be, and for many is, a lifetime study. If interested,
may I suggest you check this
page. This is excellent information on Biointensive Integrated Pest Management.
Bee Balm on the Farm
Here's a friendly site
with organic gardening information for organic pest control and
vegetable gardening. Whether you're a organic gardening newbie or an experienced gardener,
Organic Gardening Information
will provide you with the latest, time-tested information on Organic
Gardening and Organic Pest Control. Information you can use right away
to grow your own vegetables in a way that is safe for you, your family
and the environment.
Other wonders and musings on the farm...
Several years ago I discovered a subject which has truly fascinated me. Have
you ever wondered why certain plants flower or bloom at certain times
while other plants seem to be on a totally different schedule. Why do
different insects make their spring appearance at different times. I am
talking of course about Phenology, the study of physiological time. If
you are curious, I have written a page about my efforts to date in
trying to understand the
of our farm.