Gardening Without Poisons

The biggest pests

At the risk of offending you I have to say that the two biggest pests in your garden are YOU and that tin of insecticide sitting on the shelf in your garden shed. Together you are destroying the environment and your own health, not to mention contributing to the declining health of the population at large. Why poison yourself when there is absolutely no need to do so?

Where pests come from

In nature there is no such thing as a pest. All insects are part of the garden ecology. Each has its useful function and is dependent on everything else in the soil, air and the plant. Bugs eat bugs! In a healthy garden all insects are kept in check by other insects, birds, small animals and microorganisms.

Insects become pests when the natural balance between insects and their predators is disturbed. This balance is what a discerning gardener is responsible for maintaining and is destroyed as soon as he/she ignores the lessons nature is constantly trying to teach us and compulsively reaches for that tin of insecticide sitting in the garden shed.

Garden pests as teachers

As soon as a certain insect is sprayed with chemicals it opens the way for insects of another type or viruses or bacterial infections to then increase and attack other species of plant in the garden. Insecticides also provide the sprayed insects with the opportunity to build up a resistance to the chemical being applied. It’s a no-win situation in the long run.

One of the main functions of insects is to recycle those plants breaking the rules of the ecosystem that should prevail in your garden. If you are trying to grow plants that are unsuited to the climate and to the soil texture, moisture and nutrient availability, then insects, bacteria, and viruses will move in to do their job of recycling the unsuitable plant material into soil organic matter for better-suited plants to enjoy.

Another opportunity for insects and diseases to expand occurs when gardeners grow too many of the same plant at the same time. Providing an abundance of food for one insect and too little for its predators is a sure recipe for trouble. Mimic Nature. Go for variety.

Within every cupful of the soil are billions of microbes whose job is to keep the soil healthy and turn organic matter into soil nutrients.

They are the unpaid and unacknowledged workers in agriculture. Herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and soluble fertilizers destroy them on mass so that you have to spend more and more money on maintaining an imbalance that should not be there in the first place.

If the numbers of certain insects in your garden are flourishing to pest levels then nature is telling you that you are doing something wrong. Wake up! Look for the reason and correct it.

β€” H.A.E.

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