The first years of gardening can be a time of trial and error. I have found that a little failure in the garden department can truly be a great teaching tool. At least you learned what not to do right?
During my first gardening attempts I found that I was capable of creating the right environment for the plants to thrive but there was nothing stopping creatures from treating my garden like an all night buffet. There were so many bugs. There were bugs on the leaves of my squash and zucchini, chewing ugly brown lines all around the leaves edges. Worms were caught lurking inside of my pumpkins, eating them from the inside out. There were June bugs on my knock out roses just as they were starting to bloom, devouring any sign of soft pink or yellow from the buds. Then there was the white moldy blight on the gourd vines from the high southern humidity and …..well ok, the insects are not to blame for the mold. But, I was loosing the battle and I almost lost the will to garden. Granted, the only method of control I was using was handpicking. Literally, handpicking off the bugs one by one. I know it sounds silly but I honestly believe that they have a right to survive just as I do. Just, not in my garden please! Or at least they could confine their eating habits to one corner of the garden and not destroy all of my effort, right? I thought about how my grandfather would handle some of these gardening snafus. Back in the day he would have hit all of it with a healthy ( or not so healthy) dose of Seven Dust. But that's just not my style. I wanted to honor my southern farming roots but I needed to go about it in a way that I could manage on my own without getting overwhelmed. I also needed to garden in a way that holds true to my own ideals.
Lucky for me, I work at Barnes Supply Company! At my disposal is a stockade of organic gardening solutions. When those pesky bugs start inviting themselves to the garden party, a thorough spray of Neem Oil will repel them for a time, though reapplication after a heavy rain is suggested. We carry Neem Oil here at Barnes in several sizes. Neem Oil is a natural pesticide derived from the Neem tree. It not only detours bugs but it also doubles as a fungicide in some cases. The smell is peculiar but not entirely off putting. Another great “go to” for insect control is Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous Earth is one product that really flies off of the shelf here at Barnes because it has so many different uses. The product is commonly referred to as D.E.. It has a fine powdery consistency and is a naturally occurring, soft siliceous sedimentary rock. It is basically made from finely crushed fossilized diatoms. D.E. functions as a repelant and dewormer because it is abrasive to insect exosceletons and is dehydrating. It can be shaken or sifted directly onto plants. As with any insecticide , bees still need to be considered when using any pesticide product, even if it is organic. Read the lables of any pesticide you use. It is best to apply these products when the bees are inactive. Many online sources site that later in the afternoon is a good time for this. Organic gardening can be a bit of a tight rope walk. You don't want the bugs, but you definantly want and need the bees.
One pest management technique that I have had great success with is planting flowers and herbs that are both beneficial for the bees but double as a repellent to other pests. Marigolds are a great annual to plant in and around the garden. I have tried this for the past several years and have seen a reduction in garden pests. Also herbs like chives and bee balm can be planted throughout the garden for the same purpose. We have a great selection of all of these herbs and flowers here at the store.
Hey, and let us not forget that birds eat bugs! Placing your feathered friend's feeders near and around the garden will encourage them to frequent the area. Having a heavy bird presence in the garden will be like having little security guards policing the area for you, keeping the insect riff raff from chewing up the place.
By incorporating these techniques into your garden routine you will be sending a memo to all of those crawling little neighbors. “ Sorry Sir Creepy and Madam Crawly, you are simply not invited to this garden party.”