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Natural Gardening No Pests

 
Charley Hoke
Posts: 66
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
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In the 5 years since we started our organic garden we have had very little problems with pests. We do not use any sprays, pesticides, herbicides, or any other type of cides. Yet our biggest problem with pests is from Japanese Beetles, they love our green beans.

Funny thing, my neighbor who is about 200 yards away uses chemical cides and fertilizers every year, the deer and birds decimate his garden and blueberries. One year he told me the deer came through one night and ate all the leaves off of his green bean plants, the next night they come through and ate the beans.

I often see deer tracks in and around our garden but they never destroy anything and eat very little, if any. Same with raccoons, although one year they did destroy our corn patch. I do notice birds in the blueberries but there is always plenty for us to pick.

Some have suggested we don't have problems with these critters because we have dogs, my neighbor also has dogs so I'm not sure this is it. My friend Tony who lives with us and is the primary caretaker of the garden now, suggest that it is because we are all natural and we send good vibes to the critters. We really don't mind the critters having a snack as they pass through.

Interested on what your thoughts on this are and if you have similar experiences.
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
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the biggest pests in my garden are my chickens! no really,  I have used a pesticide twice in my garden in 7 years that was three years ago. that was for squash bugs that were systematically moving through and destroying my canteloupe and for some kind as of yet unidentifiable beetle plague that was defoliating my tomato patch. the chickens are actually helpfull in many ways because they get the bugs.

strange about the japanese beetles for you . I have tons of them here. They swarm late in the year over the fescue but they never touch my garden. I have found that if I use my trusty dust buster diligently to suck up squash and potato beetles early in the year I can back off a little and it isn't a problem later.


some things I have noticed.

Gardens in urban areas have many more pest problems. I think it is due too a disturbance of natural predator prey populations as well as more enviromental contamination of the soil and air and the higher likelihood of gardeners to use chemical fertilizers.


Although many people appreciate the aesthetic qualities of neat little rows of plants they really do much better if they are randomly planted in the garden. Pests and diseases have a more difficult time moving through the garden to desimate it.  This makes it a bit less efficent as far as grouping similiar plants with similiar needs but with a little thought your "random" planting can have some logical pattern that incorporates both schools of thought.

Any time you choose to plant alot of anything you are offsetting the balance of the garden and inviting a particular pest(s) to flourish by providing and over ubandance of their favorite food and likely an increase in their populations the following year. variety is your gardens friend.

Pests have a cycle covering years just like other animals such as deer. populations surge in years of abundance, begin to fail when population outnumber resources (this is when they become destructive) and level off again for a while. This is another reason why it is important to have a variety of plants in your garden.

people who really depend on the garden for sustenance (as in can't go out and replace desimated crops with store bought items) are a little more lenient in the pesticide department. thoughtful sustenance gardeners search for the root of the problem to fix it but in the mean time do what they have to do to feed their family and I withold judgment in those situations. do the best you can imo.

 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
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Paul and Jocelyn review chapter 7 of Gaia's Garden in this podcast: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/429-podcast-075-gaias-garden-chapter-7/

It talks about balanced ecosystems having no pest problems.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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i think it also has to do with how the plants are cared for. when you use commercial fertilizers and water all the time it makes for "sweet" plants. and yet when you use natural methods to fertilize like mulch, animals, etc... you dont get the same sweentess in the plants.

i had these tomato plants that were not getting touched by the deer. day by day they would walk by it, to this point i did not feed the plant, water it, anything. to see if i was crazy or not i got some seaweed fertilizer from a friend, sprayed it good like most people would. and guess what? within days they nubbed that plant down to stubs. and continued to do so until the season was over.

wild fruit trees also give signs for this, everyone around here who plants and cares for the fruit trees as modern people would all have deer problems, everything is eaten up to deer height unless you have a nice big fence. yet there are dozens of wild fruit trees around here, where the leaves and branches go all the way to the ground, fruit on the ground, and they do not touch them.

i have seen this with more than just deer.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9447
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The only time I've had what I would consider a "pest problem" is when my plants were stressed by unbalanced soil or drought.  A few nibbles don't qualify as a "pest problem" in my personal opinion regarding my own food. 

 
Ray South
Posts: 60
Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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There are plenty of creatures that might be called pests that don't particularly bother me, like the Cabbage White Butterfly. The birds, wasps and I pick off the grubs when we see them. Their numbers are never so high that they destroy a crop, well, not in my garden.
There are others, however, like the green vegetable bug (an emerald green shield bug), that are introduced and have no predators. These creatures can and do destroy crops. I can't see a way to manage such pests without some form of intervention. I'm sure that eventually a suitable predator will emerge but that's unlikely to happen in my lifetime. In the mean time, I want my tomatoes and (dry) beans, both favourites of this little green insect.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9447
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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What kind of intervention do you have in mind?

 
Ray South
Posts: 60
Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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Natra soap (a potassium based soap) is effective as a spray. I will also have to change my sowing habits a little. I like to jam things in cheek by jowl but that just creates perfect habitat for these little beggars so I'm going to space things out more, especially the beans. I read that glue spray (flour and water) is also effective but it doesn't work nearly as well as Natra soap. I'm not keen on sprays of any ilk but for the moment I see no other way. I don't have the wherewithal to cover the beans yet. I am going to try a small covered patch as a test. If it works I'll start saving my pennies so that I can cover all my beans. Well, the dwarf varieties at any rate.
 
George Lee
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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Diversity is like organized confusion...
Our minds are bedazzled when we walk in a heavily stocked garden area (herbs,vegetables)...
Must be similar to pests (hoppers, beetles, bugs).
 
George Lee
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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I fertilize my garden areas with human urine, and have witnessed deer trot up to my veg spaces and then are offended and trot off... It seems to work, for my plants and pest-pervention!
 
                        
Posts: 66
Location: San Diego
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IMHO the biggest mistake you can make is to keep your garden 100% weed free. What might be a weed to you could be home sweet home to a predator. My plants usually do fine so long as the weeds don't deprive them of sunlight. In a healthy soil there is plenty of nutrition to support a few weeds along with your edibles. The nutrition they do use goes back into the soil as compost anyway.
 
George Lee
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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hoodat wrote:
IMHO the biggest mistake you can make is to keep your garden 100% weed free. What might be a weed to you could be home sweet home to a predator. My plants usually do fine so long as the weeds don't deprive them of sunlight. In a healthy soil there is plenty of nutrition to support a few weeds along with your edibles. The nutrition they do use goes back into the soil as compost anyway.

This can be true. "Weeds" like dandelion are a good food, and flower for insect friends (who battle foes). I interplant a short-statured buckwheat in between lettuce gardens to attract a myriad of wasps (I've seen at least 10 different species) to sting and control lettuce moths/worms. If you see little white 'flags' on the back of a catapillar you know that a insectivorous wasp has landed ship and planted eggs in it. Natural pest control at it's finest.
 
Sam Surman
Posts: 64
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for me the conversion period was the worst, always being attacked by pests .... once I committed it all appeared to stop, a few nibbles here and there. Fruit crops, I always leave some as payment, be it apples or berries, I feel that if I need more, then I should actually plant more trees or bushes, not just take everything I see. Its all about 'balance' and knowing when you've received 'enough'.

Cheers

 
Sam Surman
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I don't know why there is a link in the 'apples' ? I certainly didn't intend for it to be there??
 
Christian McMahon
Posts: 72
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My biggest problem is ants and aphids. The ants herd the aphids and protect them and it gets bad real fast. I had a couple of tomato hook works kill off a couple of tomato plants. Birds have killed all my watermelons as soon as they start to grow. I am planning a greenhouse now. LOL
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
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Paul and jack spirko talk about "lessons from the forest" in this podcast: podcast.

Jack brings up how there are no pests.
 
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