There are so many bumblebees, honeybees, damselflies, dragonflies and butterflies in my gardens that I smile at them every day as I tend to my perennial and vegetable gardens. And the huge black ground beetles get my respect so I set aside some shelter for them, such as a long thin board and a small corner of dead plant matter left on purpose. I also give thanks for the tiny solitary parasitic wasps, harmless to me but deadly to aphids and caterpillars. Another friend in the garden, of course, is the hard-working and brightly colored Ladybug, or as some people call it, Ladybird.
Added to this varied list of tiny friends in my gardens, is a long list of songbirds, woodpeckers and other birds. I simply would not dream of putting chemicals on or around my plants. Our yards offer plentiful trees and shrubs along with native wildflowers that are attractive to bees and butterflies. And last winter I was overjoyed watching the neighborhood chickadees perch and peck at the tiny seeds remaining in the Goldenrod and sunflowers. I specifically select perennial plants not only for their hardiness but also for their attractiveness to wildlife. I want my urban gardens to be an oasis of food, water and shelter sources.
Except for the bad bugs. That’s where I draw the line and pick up the Welcome mat! But there are so many methods that really work well making the need for chemicals obsolete. My first and favorite weapon of choice is vigilance. As with weeding, a daily inspection can reveal early interlopers and allow me to evict them before they get too comfortable. My next weapon of choice is my watering hose. While I am judicious with my watering practices, I will most certainly allow a few well-aimed blasts for any colony of aphids with their resident ‘protector’ ants to be washed away. Next in the arsenal is a spray bottle with a mixture of one tablespoon canola oil and a few drops of dish soap in a quart of water, shaken and sprayed on the unwanted culprits intent on eating their way through my gardens. Other tools include diatomaceous earth to thwart out-of-control armies of ants, or rings of copper around my hostas to protect them from prowling slugs. There are many tips and tricks that really work. Check out these two links for more information, and you will be well-armed against the “bad bugs”.
With gardening organically, we want to encourage the “good bugs” to stick around and help us with keeping down the “bad bugs”
This link will open a pdf booklet to help identify the good from the bad, along with great tips for naturally reducing the bad guys.
And here is a link to a blogging friend’s excellent and informative post on the pests in our gardens and several natural options for keeping them controlled: http://createityourself.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/it-creeps-it-crawls-it-eats-you-alive/