Garden Critters – Friend or Foe?

Bugs, bugs and more bugs!  I’ve been noticing more and more critters of sorts in my garden and have been trying to do some research to see if I should be worried when I spot a new one.   So far I have spotted what I have narrowed down to a couple of green potato bugs (I don’t grow potatoes so not overly worried about this yet) on my chives and cucumber beetles (I’ll be planting my cucumber plants in the next week or so) mating in my wildflowers.   As an organic garden us members at the Cedar Grove Organic garden do our best to keep our in balance so a few pests are okay as long as you have other predatory insects to take care of this pesky pests without your plot being overrun.

Each time I see one of these critters I take a picture to bring him so I can try and figure out what it is so I can decided what to do from there.   In addition to the critters mentioned above I also had aphids in my garden on some kale plants last year put they were pulled and I haven’t seen any yet this year.

Green Potato Bugs – From what I have been able to determine green beans planted near your potatoes can act as a deterrent as well as add nitrogen to the soil to produce nice big healthy potatoes.  I’ve also read in several places that marigolds and others like yarrow, parsley and basil that attract predatory insects that will eat the green potato bugs. Once you spot these critters manually removing them is best but also remember if you are trying to keep your garden balanced the other beneficials that eat these may not stay if they don’t have a food source so it is best not to get rid of all of them.  Potato’s Best Buddies: Companion Plants for Potatoes

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Cucumber Beetles – Tend to emerge in mid-spring and will also eat your squash, and melon plants.  Row covers are one way to keep them away (as they can spread disease from one plant to another once established), otherwise similar to potato bugs you can grow plants such as tansy, nasturtiums, broccoli, radish, the article in the following link also suggests putting onion skins among your cucumber plants.  Lacewings and lady bugs like eating their larve.  Cucumber Beetle Control

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Aphids – I’ve had these both on my peppers on my patio as well as on a kale plant in my garden plant.  They multiple so often that if you don’t do regular checks of your plants it is easy for them to get out of control.   Everywhere I have read says the best method for control is to simply handpick them or wipe them off your plant with a soft cloth.  Ladybugs in your garden will help keep these under control so it’s best to plant make your garden lady bug friendly – I’ve going to take the fact that I see a couple of ladybugs every time I go to the garden as a good sign. If hand picking does’t seem to control them then it may be best to pull the infested plant out; remember you will need to check the plant daily once you see the first aphids.  Aphids, and How to get Rid of Them

Ladybugs – who does’t love these colourful critters.  Two main ways to attract lady bugs is to plant lots of flowers to attract them and to make sure you have the right bugs in your garden for them to eat.  Some suggested flowers include Chives, Cilantro, Calendula, Cosmos, Dill, Marigolds and Yarrow.  Don’t forget to make sure they have a water source. Attracting Ladybugs

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Bees & Wasps – it is best to plant native plants and heirlooms to attract bees and wasps as hybrids are often sterile and therefore of no use to pollinators. They like blue, violet, yellow and white flowers and would require a constant source so it is best to plan your garden to have early spring blooms through until late fall.  And like lady bugs they need a bee bath and water source, and don’t do well with insecticides.  Create a Bee-Friendly garden

Ground Beetles – these insects dine on slugs, asparagus beetles, corn ear worms and much more so they are considered a friend in the garden.  Provide a place for ground beetles to call home with flat stones or boards, or mulched perennial plants.  Once again do not use pesticides as ground beetles are highly sensitive to them – which aren’t allowed at Cedar Grove Organic Garden. You can also find ground beetles in or near rotting logs and move them for release into your garden but first make sure you create a friendly space for them.  Ground Beetles are Helpful Garden Insects

Next Week: Community Events

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Become BEE friendly

Save the bees has been a hot topic lately as more research has shown the continued use of various sprays and pesticides are wrecking havic on the bee population which we count on for a fair amount of our daily produce intake.  Learn more about this important issue at Save Honey Bees or view the documentary here Vanishing Bees

There is a lot you can do to help our bees by educating yourself to be an informed consumer and taking this knowlege into your own garden experiences. When purshasing seeds or plants from your local nursery dont be afraid to ask questions like were the seeds pre-treated and if so with what and were the plants treated with any types of chemicals that will cause harm to my gardens eco system balance. It can often be because of consumer demands and interests in this manner that will lead nurseries to offer more environmentally concious alternatives. The last time I asked a nursery if they had organic, non GMO plants I was told no. I grow most of my herbs, flowers, and veggies from organic, non-GMO seeds and would love to have this option to buy similar plants for slow growers such as rosemary. Just last week I saw an encoraging article that Art Knapp Plantland has told its suppliers it will no longer accept nursey plants treated with neonicontinoids Full Story. Learn more about what they are doing to save the bees Art Knapps Blog

Upcoming Honey events
include Honey, Hives and Poetry at the Vancouver Public Library. Public tours and basic bee keeping classes are available at Honeybee Centre and Hives for Humanity offers a number of workshops and bee services.

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Create a bee friendly garden. This artcile from the David Suzuki Foundation gives some great pointers including one I wasn’t aware of which is to make sure your benficials have a place for a drink (water) close to the plants you need polinated Bee Friendly Garden. Of course planting flowers and herbs that attract all kinds of beneficials will not only make your garden look beautiful but also provide a food source.

Next Week: Upcoming Earth Day Celebrations