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Over wintering for good bugs  RSS feed

 
Jamie Jackson
Posts: 202
Location: Zone 5b - 6a, Missouri Ozarks
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I normally clear in the fall after all the wildflowers have gone to see so that they'll come back the next year. When I haven't cleared, the wildflowers barely come back and I have mostly grass. I'm really focusing on good bugs this year and their needs. I have tons of soldier beetles, bees, wheel bugs and lady bugs because of the incredible amount of wildflowers. I don't want to mess up their balance. So as I was clearing a patch I realized I'm clearing out their areas for over wintering.

So I'm thinking now to clear right at the end of winter, right before spring so that they'll have enough dead stuff to over winter in. But I also don't want to clear right as they are emerging either.

Any thoughts on the best time to clear so that the wildflowers and bugs get what they need?
 
David Miller
Posts: 286
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I always leave at least an equal amount of uncleared (or as my grand-mother would call it "scrub") next to my gardens because of my desire for friendlies to overwinter. I have the luxury of not being able to expand my labors/land further at the moment and the area has nice natives to nurture the good guys.
 
Jamie Jackson
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Location: Zone 5b - 6a, Missouri Ozarks
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David Miller wrote:I always leave at least an equal amount of uncleared (or as my grand-mother would call it "scrub") next to my gardens because of my desire for friendlies to overwinter. I have the luxury of not being able to expand my labors/land further at the moment and the area has nice natives to nurture the good guys.


Very good idea. So then each year you would rotate where the overwintering spots are and the wildflower areas. I can't have both because when I don't mow, almost nothing but grass. I like your idea. Only killing potentially half of the goodies every year. I hate mowing so much because I hate killing bugs. But I save the grass and build up beds with it. One bed where I killed the grass and just sowed wildflowers has almost no grass in it so I don't have to mow it this year. Maybe that's the solution. Working on 5 good sized areas for insectaries near the gardens and I think I'll leave 2 sides next to the garden unmowed and just snip the saplings before they get any bigger. Plus any weeds that grow in the garden are left unless that particular space is needed and there is no mowing in the garden. So there is lots of debris in the garden itself for them.

Thanks!
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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That's a great adaption, my native area isn't cultivated and has nice small tree cover so I don't have to fight the grasses. I occasionally mow a path but no cultivation. Within my cultivated area I always plant 1/4 of the land in cover crops from Spring and allow them to overwinter. I feel like this achieves the goal of the thread while also resting the land, fixing nitrogen, mulching fodder for that land which replaces lost organic material used during cultivation etc.
 
Jamie Jackson
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Location: Zone 5b - 6a, Missouri Ozarks
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David Miller wrote:That's a great adaption, my native area isn't cultivated and has nice small tree cover so I don't have to fight the grasses. I occasionally mow a path but no cultivation. Within my cultivated area I always plant 1/4 of the land in cover crops from Spring and allow them to overwinter. I feel like this achieves the goal of the thread while also resting the land, fixing nitrogen, mulching fodder for that land which replaces lost organic material used during cultivation etc.


We only mow pathways during the year. The year we tried mowing nothing at all we got almost no wildflowers, so learned my lesson there. I do throw out cover crops of rye and clover but still have mostly grass come up. We won't till so all the grass that is cut we catch and layer on the garden. The soil there is so fluffy and has a wonderful crumb.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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i generally go thru with a bucket and take about 1/2 of the good ripe seeds and seedheads to replant IF I need the new plants..and leave everything else stanidng all winter. I wait until I have to to remove any of the standing stuff..honestly ..in most areas I leave it all all the time..year around..as it falls down and makes a great mulch..and feeds the soil.

If it is really invasive (like my mallows) I remove a lot of them, but I don't burn them ..I stack piles of them at the edges of the woods..so they still can be used by critters.

I do remove most of the leaves from the lawnish areas..and put them in the gardenish areas also so they'll rot and feed the soil but not ruin the lawnish spots (sometimes I've missed and completely killed off the grass in those areas..what a mess).

comfrey is esp useful for overwintering beneficials so leave as much of it as you can..also cane plants...as they hollow cores are great for some bees to live in
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Very cool stuff. Its nice to know that I'm not alone in believing that we must leave habitat for predators is we hope to have any luck with agriculture. Interesting to see ways in which we approach that goal. I really need to get some comfrey cultivars this year, one major missing aspect of my work.
 
Jamie Jackson
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Location: Zone 5b - 6a, Missouri Ozarks
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Brenda Groth wrote:i generally go thru with a bucket and take about 1/2 of the good ripe seeds and seedheads to replant IF I need the new plants..and leave everything else stanidng all winter. I wait until I have to to remove any of the standing stuff..honestly ..in most areas I leave it all all the time..year around..as it falls down and makes a great mulch..and feeds the soil.

If it is really invasive (like my mallows) I remove a lot of them, but I don't burn them ..I stack piles of them at the edges of the woods..so they still can be used by critters.

I do remove most of the leaves from the lawnish areas..and put them in the gardenish areas also so they'll rot and feed the soil but not ruin the lawnish spots (sometimes I've missed and completely killed off the grass in those areas..what a mess).

comfrey is esp useful for overwintering beneficials so leave as much of it as you can..also cane plants...as they hollow cores are great for some bees to live in


Wish we could do that. I"ve tried, it doesn't work here. With the dense standing grass,I don't get the wildflowers. Even with taking some of the seeds and pressing into the ground. We have 3 comfrey plants, just got that going this year. We put native bamboo in 2 years ago. Very excited to get more of that.
 
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