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How To Fight Bugs Responsibly

Aug 21, 2007
We all have to fight bugs. Let me correct myself. Those of us who have ever done any sort of gardening have definitely had to deal with those pesky critters. Most of us try to find the best bug repellant and exterminator we can find and just try to avoid making our plants and/or veggies toxic. Dealing with bugs in your garden can be a tremendous head-ache, and I am not judging anybody. However, I just want to bring to light a method of controlling bugs which sounds very environmentally friendly. Now I am going to be honest about it; I have never tried this method, but it certainly seems intriguing and undeniably sounds like it could work. It basically incorporates good knowledge of your garden, good knowledge of the intrusive pests, and good gardening practices resulting in a holistic approach to pest management called integrated pest management, or IPM.

The first and perhaps most important thing you need to do is have a healthy garden. When you plant your garden, be sure to use appropriate soils, composts, and fertilizers. Make sure that the plants you wish to plant are plants that have a history of thriving in your particular area, since even minor changes in climate, soil, day-light hours, and moisture can result in significant differences in how any particular plant will grow. In addition to this, it is important to rid your garden of weeds and their roots before you plant.

It is also very important to learn which bugs are good for your garden and which bugs are bad. Believe it or not, only about ten to fifteen percent of bugs commonly found in gardens are actually bad bugs. Good bugs provide important services to your plants including eating the bad bugs.

The best way to ensure that you have the good bugs and not the bad bugs is by making sure that your garden consists of a diverse group of plants which will provide the various good bugs with ample food and nesting. Pesticides are clearly a no-no and should not be used at all, since chemicals do not know the difference between good bugs and bad bugs. There are a number of products such as insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils that may be used in the place of pesticides to help control the bad bugs from taking over without causing too much damage to the good bugs.

It is important to realize that probably most damage caused to most plants have nothing to do with bugs. Most of these issues are usually caused by the type of soil, too much or too little sun and/or water, or some other environmental matter. This being the case, there is clearly nothing positive to come from spraying a dried out plant with insecticide. To the contrary, you would only be adding harmful chemicals to an already unhealthy plant, and at the same time killing and repelling the very bugs that could revive your plants.

There are several options you have to when it comes to treating a distressed plant. You can remove the plant, ignore the plant, or treat the plant. Removing a plant is often the most efficient option, but if the unhealthy plant just happens to be a tree, you may just want to treat it. Ignoring the problematic plant could be a good idea if a particular plant grows back each year, or is at the end of its life span. Sometimes when you ignore it, nature will heal the plant completely. It all depends on what kind of plant it is, the climate, and what other species of life there are in a specific area. Many times there could be a pest causing all kinds of harm to a plant. It may seem like the only thing to do is to either remove the plant, or spray some pesticide. In reality, spraying the pesticide could be the worst thing possible for your plants. This is because not only are you introducing chemicals to your plants, you also may be killing the very insect that feasts upon this particular pest. So the final result could be that you added chemicals to your plants, ruined the hero's dinner, and killed the hero. The proper thing all along was to simply ignore the problem and let nature work.

There clearly are scenarios where the proper course of action is to spot treat your plants with a carefully selected pesticide. The most important thing to do is to keep your plants healthy and be sure that you are caring for them. It is imperative to prune your plants when necessary. When you water your plants, knock off the bugs with a stream of water. Cover your plants with barriers such as floating row covers. Handpick and kill certain pests such as Japanese beetles. Do not use pesticides unless nothing else is working and only as a spot treatment. When mastered, this is the ultimate responsible gardening.
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