So what should a gardener do if there are insect pests in the garden?
There are too many suggestions to write just one short article about how to prevent or get rid of insect pests, but TheGardenLady will give some suggestions in this brief post.
This garden site is for the person who is a garden hobbyist, not a person making a living from the garden: but even farmers might find some good ideas on how to get rid of garden insect pests- or recommend some great ideas to the readers of this blog.
Here are just a few of TheGardenLady’s suggestions:
First of all don’t be so stressed over your garden. Expect insects to feed off your garden just as you feed off its beauty. The garden should be fun and help you relax and get rid of your stress, not cause more stress. Perfection isn’t the name of the gardening game. Remember that Nature or God made it so that all can live together: man, beast and insect.
Today more and more gardeners are going organic. It is no longer a fad or something just hippies are doing. Even the government is recommending less use of toxic chemicals and have even banned many. Going organic means using no toxic chemicals on plants. But if you feel that you can not go all the way to organic then there is a strategy called IPM or Integrated Pest Management that tolerates a little use of insecticides. IPM encourages the use of the minimum amount of pesticides after having used all the other strategies to get rid of insects- those other strategies are organic. If you are organic or using IPM, you will tolerate some insect damage in your garden. (see here)
Plant plants that attract beneficial insects that will kill insect pests. Or you can even buy some beneficial insects like lady bugs for your garden. For photos of 10 beneficial insects read this.
Pull up and destroy plants that encourage insects that you don’t want. If you have planted marigolds and the pest problem is so terrible, pull them up, put them into a plastic container with the insects trapped with the plant and put the closed plant in the sun to kill any insects in them then put the closed container in the garbage not your compost. Plants like marigolds are cheap to replace even though they are sad to lose. (Of course, if you have roses or other expensive plants, then you will want to use another strategy than pulling and destroying. But there are times that a gardener even has to resort to such drastic measures with his roses- only when the insect transmits an untreatable disease.)
When replanting flowers, try to plant them in a different location. If insects lay their eggs in the soil they might return if you were to plant the flower right back in the same spot. I wrote about how the 4 lined plant bug did a job on my Russian sage. Well, I have another Russian sage a few hundred feet away and it was not touched by any bug. Different locations can help.
Plant a variety of plants. Don’t have a monoculture (one type of plant) or you are inviting a problem.
Though folklore has it that companion planting will help deter insects, TheGardenLady does not know if there is scientific evidence for it. However, it could be pretty to try companion planting and if it helps, let the readers know. (see this)
Try to plant the right plant in the right location. (read this) A plant wants its environment to be as close to what it was in its native environment or it might not be a happy plant. A sickly plant cannot fight off insect pests like a healthy plant. For those who wrote about Marigold pests, Burpees seed catalog says that ” Most marigolds thrive in full sun, taking hot, sunny exposures in stride. Marigolds can even handle the reflected heat and light of paved surfaces as long as they get regular moisture. However, marigolds will tolerate up to 20% shade if there is bright light the rest of the day. ”
Encourage birds to your garden by building birdhouses or leaving shrubs for birds to nest in. A popular way of getting rid of insects, especially ticks, in your garden is getting chickens. If your community allows them, it is fun to have a decorative chicken coop and a few chickens that are moved around the garden to eat those pesky insects.
Books have been written about insect pests in the garden and how to get rid of them, so these are just a few suggestions.
But I want to repeat, the idea of gardening is to enjoy the work as well as your final garden and not let the stress of some insects get to you as well as your plants. TheGardenLady follows her own advice and relaxes about the insects. TheGardenLady never had to resort to any toxic insecticides. In fact, my garden is loved by birds, toads, and insects that live in my garden. I plant what I hope will be plants the insects need to eat like dill, fennel and parsley to encourage insects to lay their eggs and eat those plants when they hatch. TheGardenLady also leaves certain weeds to grow in my flower garden that I know insects love. There is a large patch of Queen Anne’s Lace and lots of milkweed and Joe Pye weed for the butterflies. And then in the fall I leave some of the dead plants for those insects to overwinter- hopefully these will all be beneficial insects but realistically I know that some of those insects with be pests that I don’t want.
For a website with photos of pests in the garden check this out.