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Give nature a chance

 
pollinator
Posts: 444
Location: N. California
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I have been organically growing my veggie garden for several years now, and I remember being so amazed  at the better taste and quality of my plants and produce.  But I continued to use a systemic on my roses, 5 feet from my veggie garden.  My thought was I don't eat my roses, and it will be way too much trouble to do otherwise.  Last year in the spring a few weeks after I used the systemic on my roses, my daughter and I where having a conversation about the decline of the bee, and it hit me I was part of the problem.  I felt so stupid.  Because I wanted it easy, I was helping to kill bee's and all beneficial insects coming into my rose garden.  Maybe I was even contaminating my veggies.  I decided to never use a systemic again.  I was sure I would have constant battles, and a few years with lot of problems before things balanced out again.  The amazing thing is I have had very little problems.  This spring one of my roses had lot of aphids on it and I thought here we go.  I bought neem oil and planned to use it, but got busy and didn't get to it for a week or so.  when I went to see how bad the infestation had gotten, I found lots of lady bugs, but no aphids.  Also this spring I noticed a hole in some of my cherry tomatoes, I did some research  and decided it was probably army worm.  I went out bought BT  ready to defend my tomatoes.  When I went out to check I didn't see any more damage, so I thought about my roses and I waited.  So far my neem oil and my BT remain unopened.  Now I'm not saying I will never have to open them, but I see I'm quick to jump in and take action, not giving nature a chance.  It's the most important thing I have learned this year, and I always learn something in my gardening. Give nature a chance.  The thought was if I wait it will go to far and I will have total destruction,  I must do something now!   Most of the time it's simply not true.  I don't want to be responsible for anyone's infestation, but I think its important to give nature a chance, you may be pleasantly surprised.
 
gardener
Posts: 3050
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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I have been here 7 years and have never used herbicides. I had a conversation with someone recently and asked the question:

Which is worse? The bug or the poison?

I am not sure i got an answer. Since it is invisible and has no taste the easy thing is to forget it is there.

Cherry tomatos produce so profusely that the  few with holes or blemishes are thrown on my hugel to try to establish them.

Aphids seem to attack "1" plant and leave the rest alone. I leave it or pull it depending on my mood.

The other bugs that provide havoc are hornworms which are easily pulled or some squash bug thingy that comes in qty (same thing, it hits "1" plant) and i vacuum them off.

There are plenty of plants that get no pest attention. In my area asparagus, blackberries and potatos have been flawless minus an occasional ant bite on a potato. Nothing that causes it to be thrown away.

 
Posts: 65
Location: Central NJ, Zone 6b
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That's great advice.

Speaking of ladybugs, I had a massive aphid attack on multiple rose plants some years ago.  I mail-ordered some ladybugs.  People thought I was nuts - they said "won't they just fly away?"  I figured that any sensible ladybug would stay put when there were so many delicious aphids to eat right there.  Sure enough, they stayed until all of the aphids were gone.

I'll be putting in a  lot of roses at my new place - mostly single-petaled shrub roses for the bees, but I'm also going to be putting in a few hybrid teas just because I love them.  I'm hoping that proper companion planting will help with any potential aphid problems, but if not, I'm bringing in another army of ladybugs!
 
gardener
Posts: 6644
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Way to go Jen! happiness is never having to use sprays or other treatments that came from a chemical plant.
As you have noted very well, Nature will handle issues as long as we give nature the time it needs to do so.
It also doesn't hurt to have built great soil, full of all the microbes and larger critters so nature has her full arsenal close to hand for when it is needed.

Wolf loves that we don't use anything but farm made additives anywhere on our land.
This year we watched as 7 praying mantis egg cases hatched and all the little ones scurried to safety and their food supply was very close by.
We have lots of walking sticks too, soldier beetles, assassin bugs, parasitic wasps, lady bugs, and other predatory insects, not to mention the birds.
The bees are still in their trees, I am hoping one colony splits and decides to take up residence in the Top bar hive I built for the first swarm that claims it.

It warms my heart to hear of others who have been shown just how powerful nature is and then learn that if we just leave things alone for a while, they will be fixed for us by nature.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
Posts: 1067
Location: Denmark 57N
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We moved house this spring and when cleaning up we found hundreds and hundreds of ladybirds, so when blackfly hit a couple of my broad beans I thought I would let the ladybirds deal with it. They did and the aphids didn't spread, BUT they did stop the two plants they were on from producing anything, they started on the top growth but by the time the ladybirds had found it, laid eggs and the nymphs had eaten the blackfly they had colonised the beans and destroyed them.

However I have over 100 cabbages out there that are compost. they all have so many holes in from the cabbage whites and diamondback moths they are useless. nature does not always work. the lovely little birds that "should" be eating my caterpillars have instead eaten every SINGLE red current and cherry and caused me to lose over 20lb of strawberries. I am quite often seen cheering the resident sparrowhawk now.

We lose quite a few potatoes to voles as well, but as we have so many it isn't a problem. The cat takes a lot of voles I have never seen one as big as the ones we get here, but she is only one small furry killing machine and likes to spend the nights warming my feet.
 
gardener
Posts: 3124
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Skandi, I have similar experiences; in any given year, there's usually something I grow that's a total loss (or nearly so) due to pests worse than I've ever seen on that kind of plant.  Countering which is that usually halfway through the year I realize "Hey, I haven't seen a single [whatever] this year!"  This year, I've had personal pest-control frogs living inside and amid the stems of every one of the plants in my container garden, due I think to a new water feature in the midst of the containers; overall it's been good.  A few large grasshoppers on the kale, a few aphids on the smaller more sickly peppers.  Not a single tomato hornworm, not a single blister beetle so far.

I do think my absolute refusal to do spraying of any kind (I don't even do self-made remedies or horticultural soaps or milk or foliar feeds) is one of the reasons I do so well with amphibians and spiders in my garden.  My attitude is "plant more plants and try to outproduce the pest pressure", not "spray something and try to rescue the existing plants."  Abundance beats toxicity.
 
pollinator
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Skandi Rogers wrote:However I have over 100 cabbages out there that are compost. they all have so many holes in from the cabbage whites and diamondback moths they are useless. nature does not always work. the lovely little birds that "should" be eating my caterpillars have instead eaten every SINGLE red current and cherry and caused me to lose over 20lb of strawberries. I am quite often seen cheering the resident sparrowhawk now.


I feel your pain!
 
elle sagenev
pollinator
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Nature is great and all but man oh man is it making a mess of things. Sure we have a badger out there digging up the ground squirrels but it's digging up everything else in the process. Giant holes all over the place on top of the tiny ones. Then I did relocate a bull snake from the barn to the ground squirrel holes in my krater but by all the new holes about I'd say it didn't eat nearly enough of what I needed it to.

They just brought the rig up Sunday and Monday. Drilling is going to start really close to us. I'm petrified of what else they are going to push to my house.
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pollinator
Posts: 11770
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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A badger!  How wonderful!  They may be extirpated in our area though my husband thought he found a dead one a few years ago.
 
gardener
Posts: 706
Location: Piedmont 7a
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Wow Elle, love how you put that snake to work for you!  Most people would kill it or chase it off. Sorry to hear about the drilling nearby. Maybe you can get them to monitor your well?  I don’t really know what other risks are posed by the drilling.
 
elle sagenev
pollinator
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Tyler Ludens wrote:A badger!  How wonderful!  They may be extirpated in our area though my husband thought he found a dead one a few years ago.



I'd be more excited about the badger if I didn't have young children. They are not allowed to go outside of their fenced yard without a LGD at this point. Badgers are far too aggressive and could really kill one of my offspring.

I do appreciate his eating habits though.
 
elle sagenev
pollinator
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Artie Scott wrote:Wow Elle, love how you put that snake to work for you!  Most people would kill it or chase it off. Sorry to hear about the drilling nearby. Maybe you can get them to monitor your well?  I don’t really know what other risks are posed by the drilling.



I've never been scared of snakes so never have been one to kill them. When the neighbors want one gone they call me and I catch it and bring it home. I relocate the bull snakes as they try to eat all my eggs. Really makes the peahen mad when they try to eat her offspring. So I catch those near the barn and move them out into my permie patch where I know they'll have plenty of food for life!

As for the oil drilling, well water quality would be our concern but that is something we have to monitor ourselves. The vibrations of the land have chased all the ground animals to the safety of houses. Most of my neighbors have cats but my husband is allergic and our dogs would kill any cat they caught so we don't have any. Thus, we have a MASSIVE ground animal problem. I need all the wild help I can get!
 
Elizabeth Geller
Posts: 65
Location: Central NJ, Zone 6b
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elle sagenev wrote:
I've never been scared of snakes so never have been one to kill them.

I'm scared of snakes.  I remember the first time I saw one at my old place.  My brother happened to be over.  I ran into the house hysterically screaming, "AAAAAAUGH!  A SNAKE!  A SNAKE!  A SNAKE!"  

My brother came out, looked at it for a few seconds, nodded, and said, "Yep.  It's a snake."
I said, "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?"
He just shrugged. "Nothing."  
Then the snake slithered away, clearly to lie in wait for a time when I had no backup.

I was able to identify this evil poisonous serpent after a subsequent encounter. Sure enough, he was a harmless little Northern Brown Snake.  I decided he was rather handsome, and after that, I was happy to see him and his cousins around the garden.  They never did eat as many slugs as I hoped, though.  Maybe they were mad at me for freaking out the first time I saw one.  Who could blame them?
 
master pollinator
Posts: 1974
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I love snakes.  My friend that is deathly afraid of them, to the point she can't watch one on TV, calls them "nope ropes".
 
elle sagenev
pollinator
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Elizabeth Geller wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:
I've never been scared of snakes so never have been one to kill them.

I'm scared of snakes.  I remember the first time I saw one at my old place.  My brother happened to be over.  I ran into the house hysterically screaming, "AAAAAAUGH!  A SNAKE!  A SNAKE!  A SNAKE!"  

My brother came out, looked at it for a few seconds, nodded, and said, "Yep.  It's a snake."
I said, "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?"
He just shrugged. "Nothing."  
Then the snake slithered away, clearly to lie in wait for a time when I had no backup.

I was able to identify this evil poisonous serpent after a subsequent encounter. Sure enough, he was a harmless little Northern Brown Snake.  I decided he was rather handsome, and after that, I was happy to see him and his cousins around the garden.  They never did eat as many slugs as I hoped, though.  Maybe they were made at me for freaking out the first time I saw one.  Who could blame them?



My new neighbor was telling me just a few days ago that he was laying on the ground hooking a chain around some super ancient pallets on his land and all he could think of was getting bit by a snake. I stared at him in horror. "You weren't wearing gloves??? You're lucky you didn't get bit by a black widow and DIE!!!" He had no idea we had black widows. Here he was scared of the non-poisonous snakes. lol
 
Jen Fulkerson
pollinator
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when I said give nature a chance, I was mostly talking about giving the beneficial bugs a chance to whip butt on the non beneficial bug.  Mammals are a different story.  We use to be surrounded by walnut orchards.  Three years ago they tore down the orchard across the street and built a house.  Even though you aren't suppose to I guess the county values rich people more then the brown gold we have for soil, but I will spare you my soap box..   Two years ago they took out the walnut orchard on the north side of us.  Luckily they did plant a new almond orchard this year.  We always have to battle mice and rats to keep them out of the house, but these last few years we have have ton of mice, rats, ground squirrels, and gophers.  I don't like to kill the animals, but can't wait for the almond orchard to mature to help with the squirrel population.  My husband use to flood the gophers out and kill them.  He has a neck injury and can't do it any more.  I just can't kill them. I flood them out.  Sometimes they die, sometimes they run off.  They don't normally return to the same hole.  I think we have a hawk nest some where close by.  I keep seeing three hawks hanging around, I would think this will also help our kritter situation.   I just figure I don't have to deal with neighbors, I just have to deal with the kritters.  It's worth it!  
Good luck with the badger situation.  That has to be very frustrating, and a little scary.  Maybe he will lower the population, and move on.  I think you are very brave about snakes.  I don't like any reptiles.  My worst fear is coming across a rattler.  I make tons of noise when I go through the tall grass, so far I have been lucky.  We do have lots of little lizards.  I'm fine with them as long as they keep there distance, and they seem to feel the same about me so we get along fine.  The other morning I was watering the straw I put down on my hugelkulture and a lizzard darted out, instead of running off, he enjoyed the shower for a bit, it was kind of cute.  I told everyone I gave my hugel lizard a shower that morning.  
Sorry about the drilling.  I know how angry I was they took a hole orchard out to put up a house, across the street.  I have never been exposed to that kind of thing, so don't know what you will have to put up with, but I can't imagine it will be good.  Good luck to you.    
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Trace Oswald wrote:I love snakes.  My friend that is deathly afraid of them, to the point she can't watch one on TV, calls them "nope ropes".



"Death Noodles."

I love snakes also. :)

 
Skandi Rogers
pollinator
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:Two years ago they took out the walnut orchard on the north side of us.  Luckily they did plant a new almond orchard this year.  We always have to battle mice and rats to keep them out of the house, but these last few years we have have ton of mice, rats, ground squirrels, and gophers.  I don't like to kill the animals, but can't wait for the almond orchard to mature to help with the squirrel population.



When we moved we spoke to one of our new neighbours, he said he could always tell when someone moved into our property (it's been rented out on and off) because he got flooded by rats/mice as they abandoned our barn! I'm afraid with two dogs and two cats he's probably been flooded with evacuees again!
 
pollinator
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Way to go Jen! happiness is never having to use sprays or other treatments that came from a chemical plant.
As you have noted very well, Nature will handle issues as long as we give nature the time it needs to do so.

Redhawk



I have a degree in chemistry and worked as a chemist before I started teaching chemistry.  (and other high school level sciences)
I've been teaching 20 years and keep studying and learning new things to be able to throw new stuff at the kids every year.
The more chemistry I learn, the less I want to eat it.
The problem (in my opinion) is not what the pesticides and herbicides kill.  It's how they kill that bothers me.

So, Redhawk is right.  The less you can use chemicals in your garden the safer your produce will be to eat.
 
pollinator
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I build a lot, so I came to the same conclusion as you Jen (the original poster), but kind of in a different way.

I will admit some things started out as laziness, or for lack of money, but I learned that we do not need to protect everything, in this case products in our home. For instance I have Pine ceilings and I did not want to put on Polyurethane before putting it up, then after it was up, I did not want to work overhead all day putting a finish on it. But in the end, it has weathered naturally quite beautifully, and really what would I be protecting the natural wood from? When was the last time you scrubbed your ceilings? So a lot of my house is natural wood; from the Wide Pine Flooring, to the V-Matched Pine Ceilings, to even the cedar shingles we use as a siding...all natural. And nature does work. My cedar shingles have weathered to a natural gray...no scraping, or painting every few years for me.

I use a lot of natural stone too because I have slate here (as in, literally in my back pasture).

(But there is no way on God's Green Earth where I will ever use a snake for anything! I am deathly afraid of snakes, and I live in Maine where there are no poisonous ones)
 
Dan Boone
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Phil Swindler wrote:
The more chemistry I learn, the less I want to eat it.



Honestly, I kinda wish I could get this on a tee-shirt.
 
author
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A top tip to assist natural predators: plant up aphid prone areas with a few low maintenance umbelliferae wild edibles eg yarrow, marjoram. In the greenhouse, I found sticking a carrot top or two in the soil a couple of months before spring(so that it's flowering by the time aphids arrive)  to give hoverflies and like minded insects an incentive to come in and feast.

I battled, cleaning every seedling leaf, with soapy water and other 'natural' aphid cures, such as cider vinegar, for a couple of growing seasons. The small leaves took a toll and the aphids returned anyway. I then resorted to some organic garden centre product and killed all the aphids in one hit. However, shortly afterwards, a distinct deadness was felt in the greenhouses, a neighbour even commented on it even though she didn't know I'd just sprayed. I then read up on permie forums and was convinced by the idea to let nature have a chance. Crucially I realised that by killing the aphids so utterly, I removed any incentive for the predators to visit and damned my chances of establishing a balance ecologically. I actually saw a hoverfly come in the greenhouse, look left and right and then leave!

The forum post convinced me to accept the losses, attend to my soil to cultivate strength in the plants and let the pests proliferate until the hoverflies, ladybugs etc arrived. Every year since I've had plenty of predators, the aphid only gets a few seedlings and I made sure companion plants to attract the predators are dotted around all over the garden.
 
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A couple of years ago I noticed a ton of aphids on my apple trees pretty early in the spring. As i was looking over the tree and thinking I needed to spray soap or something, I noticed some eggs on the underside of some leaves that had quite a few aphids around them. They looked familiar and I thought I was right but went and googled.... Sure enough, they were ladybug eggs. No way was I going to spray anything on those!

Last year in my greenhouse there were a ton of aphids on my pepper plants especially. I went out and hunted up some ladybugs and put them close to some aphids in the greenhouse. Within weeks I had ladybug larva all over the place growing fat on aphids. I showed my wife the larva so she would not disturb them. All of the aphids were wiped out within 2 or 3 months.
 
Posts: 56
Location: East Tennessee
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I do not use chemicals on my garden, I don't usually have many problems with pests. I pull the Tomato worms off and feed them to the chickens, and the Japanese beetles like the little Sassafras sprouts that keep coming up around my garden better than whatever I'm growing. As for snakes, I kill the venomous ones (Timber Rattler, Copperheads) and I move the non-venomous ones away from the house, I have four youngish sons. We do have black widows and other poisonous spiders, I just deal with them as I need to.
 
pollinator
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I like to eat the rose apples on roses, I also use the rose petals on salad.  I collect a gunny sack of the wild rose hips in the forests around here for winter tea.  Roses are actually a food source...
 
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