The Q&A Archives: Organic Gardening

Question: I live in Connecticut and have had a garden for at least 10 years. I never use chemicals and have been doing well. What I am looking for is natural ways of eliminating pests. This year I plan to order ladybugs from Burpee and would like to know what month I should introduce then into the garden. Also can you suggest other methods to keep my garden chemical free. And is there a book you could suggest on this subject.

Answer: Ten years with no chemicals...that's great! There are lots of things you can do to deter pests from the garden. Here are a few suggestions:<br><br>1. Be sure to rotate crops.<br>2. Inspect plants frequently, to catch pests early. For example, you canreally reduce Colorado potato beetle populations by checking the undersides of the leaves early in the season, and destroying the eggs.<br>3. Provide good growing conditions to keep plants healthy--good soil rich in organic matter, adequate water and fertilizer, plant at the proper time. Pests are most likely to attack and damage weakened or stresses plants.<br>4. Set aside an area of your garden and grow plants which attract beneficial insects. Include plants with "umbel"-shaped flowers, such asdill.<br>5. Always identify the pest before treating. Some things which look like pest damage are really caused by other factors, such as fluctuations in water availability.<br><br>About the lady bugs: They will be sent at the proper time for disbursement. It is recommended that you release them over several evenings rather than all at once, as they often will do like the nursery rhyme says and fly away!<br><br>I've heard that you can spray them with a soft-drink solution which "glues" their wings, keeping them in your garden for a week or so, introducing them to all the yummy bugs in your garden. That way they'll be more inclined to "stick" around. (Sorry-I couldn't resist!)<br><br>My favorite books are "The Gardener's Bug Book" and "The Gardener's Guide to Plant Diseases", both by Barbara Pleasant (Storey Communications, Pownal, VT, 1994 and 1995). Actually--any gardening book by Barbara Pleasant, or published by Rodale Press, would be on my recommended reading list.

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