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Introduction on how to help beneficial insects in the garden
Wild patch to help beneficial insects in the garden
Keep a small wild patch in the garden to attract beneficial insects. Maybe you could start a patch with wildflowers which will make the garden look good. At the same time, the insects have a place to live and hide.
You can easily buy a mixture of seeds in nurseries or online. The mixture brings color and vibrancy in the garden and helps out the little critters.
Try to keep the wild patch as natural as can be.
Maybe put in a little pile of wood.
You can also make a small compost heap that slowly decomposes over the course of the growing season.
A pile of stones can be beautiful and helpful at the same time. Several of the beneficial critters need some dark space during the daytime and don’t like the burning sun all that much. By providing some piled up stones, they can look for a little camping place while around.
polyculture all the way
Keep your garden diverse. Even when vegetables are all you care for, try to put some flowers and herbs in between and you will be surprised how many beneficial insects you can attract.
Dill, for instance, attracts both the braconid wasps and the green lacewings. Both of these insects will kill off a whole bunch of bad critters like aphids, caterpillars, and whiteflies.
Try to keep a diversity of flowers in the garden. Try to make sure that there are blooming flowers all the growing season long. When one species of flowers dies back, another species can take over.
Make a mixture of annuals and perennials. This way you’re sure that you have flowers from really early in the season to really late in the season.
Big and small, have some big flowers like roses and tiny flowers like dill. So every insect has a place to go.
Don’t dismiss the soil
The soil is an important part of the ecosystem for the insects. Although a soil can harbor bad bugs, it’s also a place for many beneficial critters to live in.
Making sure you have a living soil that keeps moisture in, will be a necessary step to get the good bugs to stay around.
Centipedes, for instance, love the humid soil and can kill a whole bunch of bad insects crawling around in the soil before they emerge and flood the air.
Mulch your beds with greens and browns and keep the moisture and life in the soil to help beneficial insects in the garden.
build a bug hotel to help beneficial insects in the garden
There are many articles on the web on how to build a bug hotel. This can help out a lot of pollinators and other insects that need a place to stay.
You can find all kind of different ways to make the little home for the insects and there’s always a way to fit it into your garden.
controversial: attract bad insects
This is indeed a bit controversial but you can plant certain plants that are almost certain to attract “bad” insects to your garden.
The way most people do this is without even knowing. Take for instance the cabbage butterfly. We attract the cabbage butterfly by planting a plant belonging to the brassica family.
There are ways to use this principal without ruining the harvest.
I, for instance, use nasturtium to attract aphids. Once the plant is filled with aphids, I just have to wait for the ladybugs and other predators to show up and decimate the aphids. They won’t only decimate the aphids on the nasturtium but they will also spread out in the garden and keep pests at bay.
spend money: buy beneficial insects
Sometimes, no matter how long you wait, those helping hands just don’t show up. So, now is the time to make a choice between insecticide or another solution.
Beneficial insects can be bought in specialized shops.
There are some things you have to do before you buy the insects to make sure your money is well spent.
Identify the bad bugs. Make sure you know what beneficial bug you need to kill the bad insects or critters roaming around in your garden. Sometimes, this will implicate you have to take magnifying glasses to check the critters that bug you, pun intended.
Make sure there are enough nasty insects to make sure the beneficial insects will have something to munch on. So, don’t buy anything until you are sure there’s not only a couple of bugs attacking the plants. Sometimes you’ll have to wait a bit until a plant is really infested before you intervene. There’s no point in buying a thousand ladybugs if you only have a hundred aphids.
what about fungicides, pesticides, and insecticides
The problem with most of the “killing” products is the fact that they don’t see a difference between good and bad insects. Most of the time the products just wipe out everything almost leaving the garden sterile.
So try to avoid those products as much as possible. I know it’s not always possible to get rid of a pest without using insecticides but try to keep it at a minimum and know when you use it.
Check when you can use the insecticide to avoid damaging the beneficial insects in your garden.
For instance, using an insecticide in the evening will make sure you don’t kill of pollinators like bees and bumble bees. Try to overthink before you use. If possible, just avoid.
So this is it for this article on how to help beneficial insects in the garden. I hope you’ve found it interesting. If so, please share on social media, with friends, and other gardeners.
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Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.