Archive for the ‘Pest Control’ Category

Protect your Veggies from Chemicals

Posted on: December 2nd, 2012 by Annette No Comments

One huge advantage of growing your own veggies at home is that you can control the chemicals applied to them and deter the bugs that invariably try to eat them before you do. But why is this important?

pesticides for veggiesPesticides Contaminate

A recent news report out of Israel states that a third of the pesticides they use are banned in Europe, and that the Israel Union for Environmental Defense found high levels of as many as 105 pesticides in fruit and veg grown in that country. Those most affected were apples, grapes and celery.

This doesn’t mean that what they are doing in Israel is illegal, but one wonders how easily the treated crops could reach our own tables. Israel exports food all over the world, and so how would you even guess that it might be contaminated? Even if you don’t live in Israel or buy food that originated there, there may be food on your supermarket shelves that has been treated with pesticides that ironically lower their “quality”.

Particularly scary is the fact that many modern pesticides have been formulated so that the stuff that kills the bugs can’t be removed by watering (clearly to stop it washing off in the rain). Do you want to consume pesticides? According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are at least 20,000 pesticides on the market and about 1-billion pounds of pesticide are used every year for agriculture. That’s just in the US. Even the cynics are beginning to realize that they do do damage! The ideal is organic vegetables that have not been treated with pesticides.

Vegetables you can Expect to Have Been Treated with Pesticides

In June 2012, the US Environmental Working Group (EWG), which aims to do everything possible to protect the environment and public health, produced a list of the 12 produce items with the highest pesticide content. Apples and celery topped the list (in keeping with the Israeli findings), while grapes popped in at number seven. The rest, from three to 12 were, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, and kale and collard greens.

Fruit and Veg that Escape the Pesticide Plague

The EWG also published a list of the least contaminated fruit and veg. from 1-15: Onions, corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwifruit, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and mushrooms. Interesting that tomatoes don’t feature on either list.

The Solution?

Grow your own veggies at home. Use organic fertilizers and natural pesticides; and practice companion planting. Our book Companion Planting for Veggies comes with a free bonus book Natural Pest Control Remedies. It contains 50 tips and recipes for banishing pests in your veggie garden using safe and natural solutions. You can easily make them in your kitchen!

How to Attract Predator Insects to Control Nasty Pests

Posted on: January 29th, 2012 by Annette 1 Comment

One of the most popular  reasons people grow their own vegetables is to control what chemicals go onto them. Luckily nature has developed its own very effective system for controlling pests.

What Are Insect Predators?

In the world of animals, there are carnivores (predators) and herbivores. The carnivores are meat eating, and feed on the herbivores.

The same happens in the insect world – where specific insect predators eat other insects.  We can harness this natural cycle as one of the strategies to naturally control pests in our vegetable gardens. Insect predators eat other insects.\

 

Insects such as ladybugs, lacewing bugs, spiders, wasps, certain mites, damsel bugs and many others are known as beneficial insect predators and you want to attract these into your veggie garden.. 

You can do this by creating an insectary by planting predator attracting plants.   The garden insectary is a type of “companion planting“.

By planting a range of predator attracting plants you can provide alternative food sources (such as nectar and pollen, required by many predators as part of their diet) as well as habitat and shelter. For example, you can control aphids by attracting an aphid-specific predator such as Aphidius by planting lupins or sunflowers.

Your insectary only needs to be big enough to hold six to seven varieties of plants that attract insects. Once these plants have matured, your beneficial insects will efficiently take over the insect pest control in your vegetable and fruit garden for you.

Tips for Creating An Insectary

  1. Grow plants of various heights in your insectary: lace wings lay their eggs in protected, shady areas. Ground beetles like the cover from low growing plants such as mint, thyme or rosemary
  2. Flowers such as daisies and mint-like plants such as peppermint, spearmint etc will attract robber flies, hover flies and predatory wasps.
  3. Plant insectary annuals between your vegetable beds. This will lure beneficial insects as well as adding a touch of decoration to your garden.
  4. Let some of your vegetables grow to flower (carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, bok choy etc).

Ideal Insectary Plants

  Good insectary plants include :

AlyssumAlyssum Lemon balmLemon Balm

     

  • Alyssum
  • Amaranthus
  • Convolvulus
  • Cosmos
  • Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace)
  • Digitalis
  • Limonium (Statice)
  • Lemon balm
  • Parsley
  • Peonies
  • Verbascum thaspus

A garden insectary should be a permanent component of your veggie garden. The longer your insectary is in place, the more effective it will be as insects discover this place that provides food, shelter and a source of nearby food.

As your plantings mature and resident populations of beneficial insects are established, the need for toxic chemical pesticides will diminish. Your garden will become a more natural and balanced environment for the production of healthy vegetables and flowers.