Monday, April 13, 2009

bug sanctuary

In the back corner of the garden, under the apple tree, is a bug sanctuary - this is a wild, weedy place that encourages the good bugs ( hopefully!) that are the pollinators and" bad" bug eaters. This grassy, weedy place provides a refuge for beneficial insect predators - beneficial insects prey on other insects that eat garden plants, or are parasitic and lay their eggs on other insects, or act as pollinators. Lacewings are a good example of beneficial insects - their grubs attack and eat a variety of caterpillars, scale insects and aphids. And of course, any plants that encourage bees are especially helpful. I love comfrey for this - every summer a swarm of big, fat bumblebees comes to feast on the sweet nectar of the purple comfrey flowers. There are many plants that can act as decoys for your garden plants - nasturtiums and calendula attract black aphids like nothing else. Many herbs that are allowed to flower are super for attracting pollinators: the Valerian, Fennel, oregano, St. John's Wort and Spearmint flowers are great examples of this. Borage is known as "bee balm" as honey bees love it so much. This is a link to check which plants repel insects: Looks like I'd better grow some tansy this year! We tend to get a lot of cutworms, slugs, aphids, and cabbage moths. And check out "Carrots love Tomatoes" a little book about companion planting by Louise Riotte. And you can read about basic concepts of companion planting here:

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