Managing pests in your garden using natural control methods is nothing new. This type of control has been around for hundreds of years as opposed to inorganic pesticides which are relatively new on the scene. Biological control is best explained as, when beneficial insects are attracted into your garden to suppress nuisance insects. Encouraging these good guys helps to maintain a healthy balance between the good and bad guys which avoids the use of insecticides.
The good guys include
- Praying mantis
- Ground beetles
The bad guys are
- White fly
- Green beetles
- Carrot fly
- Mealy bug
Flowers which are small and open tend to be more attractive to the good guys, as most have short tongues! Here is a list of some easy to grow perennials and vegetables to grow to tempt the good guys into your piece of paradise.
- Carrot flower (collect seeds when flower dries)
- Queen Anne’s Lace
- Echinacea (Cone Flower)
- Phacelia – this is the chocolate ice-cream plant for the good guys. They will sniff this one out from far and wide. So if you only have time to plant one, plant this one.
Native New Zealand plants which attract the good guys include Muehlenbeckia, Pittosporum, Ribbonwood, Cabbage Tree and Hebes.
The secret to having the good guys visiting and staying for the duration of the growing season is to provide beneficial flowers from spring to late summer. This will involve planting every month to provide a continuous source of nectar or pollen. Obviously don’t use any broad insecticide spray as you will wipe out the good with the bad. Lastly try to provide refuges such as long grass or hedges so these good guys will stay over winter in your garden.
Remember in an organic garden you are working towards a ecological balance. To achieve this you need some pests to provide food for the good guys. Don’t be too concerned if you have a healthy supply of aphids or caterpillars on some plants this is all part of the natural cycle. Remember, if it all becomes too overwhelming you can always tell people you are breeding aphids to feed the pet ladybirds!!