This guest post on farmscaping was written by Michelle Rebecca.
PEST CONTROL IS a constant problem for any vegetable gardener, but especially for those of us making a commitment to organic gardening. Commercial pesticides are dangerous to health and pollute the environment. So-called “organic” pesticides often aren’t very safe either, and even the safest pesticides can kill across the board, slaughtering beneficial insects as well as pests.
The more natural approach is to fight bugs with bugs, using predators and parasites to control unwanted bug populations while encouraging pollinators to visit your garden. Attracting beneficial bugs requires a little planning, and a willingness to sacrifice a small portion of your vegetable garden to insect-attracting plants.
Farmscaping combines food crops with flowering plants to attract pollinating insects. The more pollinators you have buzzing around your vegetable garden, the higher your vegetable yield because more flowers are pollinated.
As a rule, set aside 5-10 percent of your vegetable garden for flowering plants. Choose your flowering plants carefully; you want enough variety for a full season’s worth of blooms.
In addition to attracting pollinators, farmscaping adds some visual appeal to your vegetable garden. You spend plenty of time tending your garden – you might as well do so in attractive surroundings.
A number of predatory bugs feast on the insect pests looking to dine on your vegetable crop. Ladybugs are the most common example, but don’t neglect other critters. Lacewing larvae, for instance, are such voracious aphid eaters they’ve earned the nickname aphid wolves.
Predatory bugs need a food source, places to shelter, and access to water. The pests you’re trying to control provide the food source, so no worries there. Places to shelter include tree crevices and leaf litter (ladybugs overwinter in such locations).
Ground beetles eat a wide range of soft-bodied pests, including caterpillars, slugs and garden snails. Beetles prefer undisturbed areas so they don’t have to travel far to find food and shelter. Providing some mulch under surrounding trees or shrubs attracts them to your garden.
Regular plant watering should provide your insect allies with enough water, or you could add a water feature to your garden. Standing water, however, attracts its own pests, so you might want to consider combining a water feature with yard mosquito control.
It shouldn’t need saying, but spiders are a welcome sight in a vegetable garden. These aggressive little hunters have hunted plant-harming insects for millions of years. Staked beans and other climbing plants make good anchors for spider webs.
Release or Attract?
Some people deliberately release beneficial insects into their gardens, buying boxes of ladybugs and other beneficial bugs from commercial outlets.
Releasing bugs can help control pests, but only if your garden is already attractive to bug-life. Unless conditions are ideal, your released bugs will either die or migrate to more attractive locations.
Michelle Rebecca is an aspiring writer with a passion for blogging. She enjoys writing about a vast variety of topics and loves that blogging gives her the opportunity to publicly voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.
Related posts you might enjoy: