Safely Keeping Bugs Away

msmith
Planting a garden poses a number of risks: drought, extreme temperatures and pests. In order to deal with pestilence, modern farmers have a number of tools at their disposal; most of them come in the form of chemical pesticides, designed to kill the bugs that might threaten crops.

Pesticides have their place in our modern world; without them, food prices would soar, consistent, plentiful harvests wouldn’t be guaranteed and our food supply would often be contaminated with unwanted critters. This is the price we pay for having an efficient and global food system. However, the usage of these chemicals does concern us when it comes to talking about health.

This concern over the usage of chemical pesticides has helped to drive the organic movement. Many people are going to local farms or joining CSA programs. They are eating local, getting more connected to where their food comes from. They are getting to know their farmers. And, in many cases, they are becoming the farmers, themselves.

Now, perhaps more than ever in the last 50 years, people are planting their own gardens, and with good reason. What better way is there to get fresh produce on your table than going right outside and picking it? No nutritional value is lost in transport. Foods are harvested at their peak.

So you’ve decided you want to plant a garden to take advantage of the benefits of fresh produce. How do you control pests without dousing your garden in pesticides. There are a few things to keep in mind.

Grow plants that are indigenous to your area. 
You aren’t going to grow a pineapple in Michigan or an orange in New York. Pick food types that grow comfortably and indigenously to your area; these kinds of plants will have natural defenses to local critters and require less maintenance than non-native plant types. They’ll also require less watering.

Remember that not all bugs are bad. 
Some insects live symbiotically with plants; they’ll often protect the plants against other, more parasitic insects that would harm the plants.

Engage in Chemical-Free Pest Control 
Hanging sticky pads painted bright colors can help control pests attracted to bright colors.

Engage in biological warfare. 
Certain types of microbes will kill harmful pests, species such as parasitic nematodes and Bacillus thuringienis. These can be applied to your garden; they’ll do the rest of the work for you, themselves.


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