A couple of the biggest myths of organic gardening is that it is hard work and time consuming.. While both might be true, neither term applies to anything you have to do. Let me explain. Part of organic gardening is being able to keep bad insects, such as aphids, beetles and armyworms, off of your plants with good insects also called beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, hoverflies and lacewings. The only work you need to do is to attract the beneficial insects. This requires some upfront work, but once that is done, the beneficial insects do the rest.
You could even go the easy route and actually purchase beneficial insects from a local garden store, but for me that seems like a waste of money when you can simply attract them to your property yourself with very little effort. The hard work is performed by those beneficial insects you attract and as for the time consuming part that simply depends how much time you want to spend planting items that will attract these beneficials.
There are a number of beneficial insects you can attract to your garden that will suffice in helping you get rid of those insects that do damage to your vegetable plants. Which ones you should attract really depend on what you are growing. For example, if you grow corn, your crop immediately becomes subjected to a possible attack by the corn earworm. As their name suggests they love to eat your corn. Not to worry though, bring in some Trichogramma wasps and the corn earworm will soon disappear.
For each destructive insect, chances are there is a beneficial one that will eat it. When in doubt of a destructive insect’s beneficial counterpart, just bring in the old reliable praying mantid. Be careful about these guys though, they have tremendous appetites and they will also eat some beneficial insects as well.
If you are like me and not an entomologist how do you know which beneficial to attract? My rule of thumb is to take the necessary steps to attract the ones that tackle the problem insects in my area. In my area aphids are a huge problem. So what I do is plant dill, fennel or cilantro along with some morning glory and in no time I increase the ladybug population who then consumes the aphids.
I can write an entire novel on the insect population and how you can use insects to actually control the population by pitting one against another. It’s all part of the food chain. You are simply bring them together at the same spot.
Just like with anything else, start off slow to get an understanding of you need to do to make this process work for you. Ask your local co-op in your area, they are filled with tons of information on this very subject. With a little prep work your garden can be insect free in no time. That’s bad insect free.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, who operates the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook and the widely popular Seeds of the Month Club.