Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Insect Predators - Gardening Miracles

My partner is an OSU-certified "master gardener." That means on our small acreage we've got an organic veggie garden, a greenhouse, a small plant cloning workshop, and lots of empty white plastic bottles (which we recycle) laying around. It also means we have home made tomato sauce in Winter, jams and jellies to die for, our own red-wine and lots of flowers for cutting. I am continually grateful for our decision to locate on this land in this wonderful place 17 years ago yesterday.

So about this time, we've got a lot of starts in our greenhouse that are getting ready for the garden. And some flowers ripening under lights. We also have the occasional problem with nasty, herbivorous insects. Being organic gardeners, we use a variety of natural remedies - taking into account the life-cycle behaviors of the critters we discover. For example, Thrips spend two different parts of their life-cycle in the soil and can be effectively eliminated with nematode predators. Insects that live and breath in planting mix can also be controlled with a layer of diatomaceous earth, which effectively shreds their bodies as they climb out of the soil. But of course, not all insects can be controlled through the soil. Spider mites can also be a pain. And don't even get me started on white fly. So we use a variety of natural insect predators from Nature's Control. They ship overnight, so check them out if your flowers are blooming - and you want to keep it that way without chemical pesticides.

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