Garden pests! Grrr! It is a constant battle keeping them from overtaking the garden, but, there are all natural actions you can employ to win the war!
The first year, we were overtaken by aphids and japanese beetles. They. were. everywhere! After a little bit of research, and a good game plan, I was ready to fight back!
We don’t do chemicals of any kind in our garden. Nope! Not gonna do it! We want to be good stewards of our land & surrounding habitat, and nourish our bodies with chemical free produce.
This can make it challenging when dealing with pests. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard japanese beetles cackling as I sprayed the bell pepper plants with my Homemade Bug Spray. However, live and learn. The next year, my arsenal became quite a bit stronger. We ain’t playing around, folks.
So, you might ask, what was my grand “take back my garden” plan? Well, my mission was to encourage beneficial insects and discourage or irradiate the bad bugs!
Let’s begin with some beneficial nematodes! Because of a massive attack the year prior from the Japanese beetles, I decided to release 30 million live beneficial nematodes (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) into the soil 2 months before planting started. Take that suckers!
Depending on the type of beneficial nematode, these organisms kill over 200 harmful soil dwelling pests, and they have no adverse effects on other beneficial insects such as ladybugs and earthworms.
At the end of the summer harvest, our Japanese beetle assault was limited to about 3 weeks, with far less beetles then the previous year. The year prior we saw Japanese beetles for 4-5 weeks in droves, so I was happy with this improvement.
I purchased my nematodes from Amazon, and will be ordering them, again, this year!
Next up, I planted marigolds around the perimeter of half of our garden, and in between some of my Brassica (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts) plants. The marigolds also bordered the tomatoes, red bell peppers, cabbage, and broccolini.
The scent of several older varieties of Marigolds (African, Mexican, & pot marigolds) deters and repels garden pests such as aphids, tomato hornworm, mexican bean beetles, cabbage maggots, rabbit, and deer.
I also received several free packets of Gurney’s Beneficial Bug Blend. Each packet of 300 seeds contains a mix of (Source: Gurney’s)
“Annual Candytuft, Siberian Wallflower, Cilantro, California Poppy, Baby Blue-Eyes, Lance-leaved Coreopsis, Cosmos-dwarf, Annual Gaillardia, Gayfeather, Shasta Daisy, Bishop’s Flower (or False Queen Anne’s Lace), Dill, Globe Gilia, Purple Prairie Clover, Black-Eyed Susan, Rockcress, Basket-of-Gold, Sweet Alyssum, Bergamot.
This mixture attracts benefical insects to the garden. Beneficial insects include lacewings, lady bugs, hover flies, tachinid flies and parasitic wasps, which help to destroy harmful garden pests such as aphids, thrips and mites.”(Gurney’s)
I spread these seeds in between the marigolds along the border of one half of the garden.
The results were marvelous! I had less pests, and a crazy amount of beneficial bugs, including butterflies, lady bugs, and assasain bugs (just don’t get too close to these bad boys because they can bite)! We added a stand of honey bees earlier in the spring, so, this gave them lots of choices to feed from, as well!
Visually, the companion flowers were stunning! The marigolds kept blooming and blooming. I had flowers from June-October! I definitely recommend using both the Marigolds and the Beneficial Bug blend, and I will use them, again, myself this year!
In a world full of Roundup controversies and concerns over misuse of other chemical pesticides and insecticides, it is incredibly gratifying to find natural solutions that work! Are they perfect? Nope.
But, by using these natural solutions, we are being great stewards. We are encouraging life, abundance, and great health, even if it is on a small scale. That, my friends, is terrifically satisfying!
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