Organic Gardening in CA – Good Bugs and Bad Bugs
TWhen people think of organic gardening, they often assume it’s a reference to chemical-free farming. What they don’t realize is that organic gardening in California actually refers to a philosophy. When put into use, its practice supports the health of the entire ecosystem.
How Bugs Play a Part in Organic Gardening
If you want to try your hand at organic gardening, you need to forget about using any sort of synthetic fertilizer or pesticide. Instead, you need to learn how to take advantage of companion planting, crop rotation, and natural fertilization. To get rid of harmful bugs, you must know how to attract predators and which natural chemicals deter infestations.
Both Aphids and caterpillars can destroy a garden. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and consume up to 27,000 times their body weight in leaves and vegetation.
Left unchecked, the bad bugs in your organic garden can leave you without much to show for all your hard work.
Which Bugs are Bad?
In California, these are the most common harmful insects you can expect to find in a garden.
- Cabbage Maggot
- Tarnished Plant Bug
If there are only a few of these critters crawling around, then you can pick them off your plants by hand. However, the best way to avoid an infestation is to never let one happen in the first place. By attracting good bugs to your organic garden, you can protect your plants naturally, without the need for chemicals.
Which Bugs are Good?
The destructive bugs all feed on vegetation, but the good bugs eat other bugs. For instance, the Damsel Bug enjoys a diet of aphids and caterpillars. You can find them in and around alfalfa fields. Just collect a few in a net and release them into your garden.
Other beneficial bugs are attracted to certain plants. Herbs like dill and fennel attract several different species of beetles that don’t eat the plants but instead munch on the aphids also attracted by those same plants.
Here is a list of beneficial bugs you want in your California garden.
- Braconid Wasps
- Damsel Bugs
- Lady Beetles
- Pirate Bugs
- Tachinid Flies
Controlling the pest population in your garden by using predators is just the first line of defense. Sometimes, it’s necessary to bring in heavier artillery, in the form of herbal pesticides.
Pesticides in an Organic Garden?
I know what you’re thinking. You pursued organic gardening to get away from using harmful chemicals that damage the environment. The last thing you want is a bed full of contaminated vegetables.
Many common and natural household liquids are deadly to bugs. Capsaicin, garlic spray, and chrysanthemum tea kill many types of insects, and most people can brew up a treatment right in their own kitchen. However, there are times when it just makes more sense to call a pest control company. Many of your garden pests can spread and contaminate costly landscapes and trees.
Pest control companies operating in California must meet very strict guidelines. The chemicals used for pest control must pass both EPA standards and the more stringent state regulations.
For people who are into organic gardening, pest control companies may seem like a last resort. However, those companies employ experts in insect management. Many times they can suggest and organic friendly ways to control your infestation problems.