Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Organic Pest Control

Posted by: Paul Gardener
A posse ad esse (From possibility to reality)

Last year at this time, we made a special trip down to Salt Lake City (Utah) to go to a particular nursery, MillCreek Gardens. The reason that we went out of our way to go to that particular nursery, was to pick up, oh, eighteen hundred or so workers to help around the garden and yard.
There are approximately 1500 ladybugs in this package. It cost me $9.99 and I feel will be worth every penny. These little guys were released at dusk (as per instructions on the package.) around our 4 fruit trees, near the raspberries and strawberries, and some in the flower beds.There is some evidence that when large numbers of "imported" lady bugs are released that they don't all hang around. I will say however, that I had lots of lady bugs visiting me last year while I worked in the garden and had very little problem with aphids, a prime food source for these carnivorous little ladies.
I also picked up a cocoon of praying mantis that should carry in the neighborhood of three hundred manti. Between these two I should be able to make a pretty good dent in the aphid population around here. I've done this before in a previous home and loved the surprise of finding a mantis or lady bug every once and a while.My wife was the lucky lady that got to find this big fella crawling around our beans last year. They can kind of freak you out when you notice that the stick is moving, but it's nice to know that they're hard at work for me and are happy to be doing it!

Now granted, this kind of gardening is a little slower, and not 100% effective, but it will make a big difference. It makes a lot more sense to me and it helps to build a healthy ecosystem in our yard. If you've not tried this before I encourage you to take a look around to see if you can find them where you are. But even if you can't, you can really make a big difference by just letting the ecosystem in your garden develop naturally and keep an eye out for what's going on. Nature wants to work with us, it's up to us though to take her up on it

Grow on!


ChristyACB said...

Ladybugs do work like champions in the garden. I think they are pretty much 100% effective here but they just don't hang around! I order mine online and they do travel really well, perking back up after a little drink of water.

Chookie said...

At the risk of sounding horribly smug, a friend found *four* different species of ladybugs on *one* of my rose bushes last summer! Conditions are probably different here though; for example, no harsh winters.

The general rules for encouraging predatory insects are to have a wide variety of plants in the garden and to make sure there is a water source.

P~ said...

Christy~ I never even thought of looking online...duh! great idea.

Chookie~ Be smug all you like, that's great to hear. I completely agree with what you suggest on helping to build a friendly ecosystem too.

Jane said...

The best way that I have found to get a lot of ladybirds into my garden is to let a few carrots go to seed. They seem to come from everywere.

Regan Family Farm said...

Any suggestions on Japanese Beetle control (not the hanging bag that draws them from all the neighbors)? My organic solution for now is to gently scoop them up and pass them to the chickens...a treat for the ladies, but a bit time consuming for me...

Jake said...

We must have had a good year for praying mantis around here last year. I've been finding their "nests" everywhere from ornamental grasses to the peach trees. I'm hoping with a few organic pest controls like bt that we can have a pretty good harvest from the garden this year. As to the Japanese Beetles, last year was the first year we had virtually none that bothered any of our plants. I can only guess that the family of skunks that moved into our yard, digging their little holes all over the place is what is keeping the japanese beetles at bay. Don't know many people that want skunks traipsing around their home, but you won't hear me complaining. ;)

Annette said...

I'll have to pick up a mantis cocoon; the lady beetles (not bugs) that the government released several years ago are still here and great for the garden, though they are a pain in the house - and they bite!

P~ said...

To the Regan Family Farm, I odn't know that I'd go so far as to suggest moving a skunk in, but I'm glad to hear that it may be working for Jake :)
We don't have Japanese beetles (yet) here in Utah, but we do have other beetles. They mainly cause problems with the grubs eating our lawns. If you don't range your chickens, you may want to try that, they will pick the beetles that they can get to, and are very good at picking the grubs out of the ground. Fewer Grubs means fewer beetles.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

In early spring we were suddenly struck by a huge indoor infestation of what I *thought* were lady bugs. I was scooping them off the window frames and into a little bucket with a mesh lid and some food, to save for my garden. I later learned from my neighbours (who also had the problem) that they weren't ladybugs, just a look-alike beetle that could actually damage my plants. Real ladybug count: 0. Definitely buying some next year. I didn't know you could!