I, like many of you I’m sure, have been enjoying the mild winter weather we have been having this year. However, when thinking about the upcoming gardening season, I think we are going to have our hands full combating lots of bugs. Being an organic gardener at heart, I have been arming myself with as much information as I can so as not to have to bring out the pesticidal sprays to keep those nasty bugs from consuming my entire garden.
Pesticides kill bugs. The problem is that they kill all bugs – both good and bad. If you find that you need to use some spray control, try using the least harmful control possible such as garlic and hot pepper sprays or hosing the plants down with water.
I know that bad bugs have enemies that would like to eat them for breakfast. Beneficial bugs can be classified into three basic categories: predators, parasites and pollinators.
The predators are the carnivores of the garden. Some chew their pray while others suck the juices out of their victims. I know, it’s not pretty! Most times it is in the larval stage where all the carnage takes place.
Parasitic insects deposit their eggs into a host insect. The eggs then feed off their host, the bad bug. Also, the bad bug may eat the eggs of the good bug which will destroy the bad bug. Got that all straight?
And last but not least are the pollinators. I’m sure the bee may come to mind first but birds, butterflies, moths, wasps and ants are pollinators, too.
A good organic garden is one that supports the good bug population by providing food, water and shelter. Don’t freak out when you see aphids on a vegetable plant. Remember that good bugs need bad bugs to feed on. In your garden plan include plants that will attract and keep beneficial bugs around. The nectar of flowering plants is necessary for the adult good bugs to feed on. Water can be provided in the form of a bird bath, sprinkler or a mister. Using mulch in the garden can provide a cool place for good bugs to hang out during the heat of the day. A low growing ground cover can do the same.
Look for my next article in which I will expound on good bugs and beneficial plants that even include some weeds. Yes, weeds that you should let grow in or near your garden!
As always, Happy Gardening!
The Purdue Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange County.