That’s right, you heard correctly. You want to have some pests in the garden. It seems counterproductive to knowingly harbor these food criminal masterminds 😂. But there’s a good reason you might want to knowingly be an accomplice.
“…if you have no pests, then the beneficials won’t have any food. If there’s no food available, your garden protectors aren’t going to stick around and your garden will be left exposed to infestations.”
When we think of the living creatures in our garden, we like to simplify them into two categories: pests and beneficials. This oversimplification can actually hurt our gardens and prevent us from reaching our goals. With a black and white mentality, there’s often only one goal: eradicate the pests.
But if you have no pests, then the beneficials won’t have any food. If there’s no food available, your garden protectors aren’t going to stick around and your garden will be left exposed to infestations. So a small pest population can help keep your beneficials around, minimizing crop loss.
Plus, trying to eliminate pests is exhausting! If you’ve ever seen a grower weaving in and out of the garden waving a dust buster in the air, then you know exactly what I mean (not that I’ve ever done that… 🤫😂).
So instead of trying to eliminate the pests all on your own and ending up exhausted and feeling like you have no choice but to result to sprays and dusts (yes, even organic ones are harmful), it can help to switch your mindset. Instead of asking how to get rid of the pest, ask yourself what beneficial species would love to be invited to a feast! Then your garden doesn’t just feed you, it feeds the garden protectors too.
By approaching your garden journey from a space of sharing, you’ll be honing in on what it means to be a steward of the land and your chances of getting the abundance you want from your garden increases. Meanwhile, the effort you have to put in to get all that fresh food decreases. That’s a win for everyone! The pest population is allowed to eat a little, the beneficials have plenty of food, and you can cross dust busting the garden off your list! You’ll be utilizing the laws of nature to benefit everyone.
Now, this doesn’t mean never taking action if you get an infestation. On the contrary, if you notice a crop competitor coming for your food, you’ll absolutely want to act. But if the action is just you having to directly deal with the pest, you’re putting more work on yourself than you need now, and in the long run. Because you can dust bust those pests all day long, but eventually, they’ll be back. When they come, you’ll want to have a strong ecosystem in place so that you don’t have to do all the work by yourself. So you’ll want to take actions to create a strong ecosystem.
It takes diversity in a garden to create a strong ecosystem and abundance in the garden. Diversity helps establish a balanced ecosystem. Less diversity encourages imbalance and fragility of the whole system. Mono-crop farms are a perfect example of this. In mono-crop farming, only one crop is planted. This then draws the pests that attack that specific plant. With no plant diversity or crop rotation, there’s nothing to deter that pest population. So you’ll want more than just one or two species of beneficials to help ensure you’re always ready if a pest decides they’re going to try to overpopulate and take over.
Which beneficials you’ll want will depend on what’s happening in your garden. That’s a topic for another blog. The important thing to remember is that the first step in getting more fresh food with less effort is to switch your thinking from pests being something bad you have to eliminate, to them being an offering for your beneficial guests.
Related articles you may enjoy:
Keys to Partner with Mother Nature
Pests & Diseases in the Garden Happen… What do you do?
How to Address Fungus Gnats
Have you ever used beneficials successfully?
Have you tried to use beneficials but failed?
Are you new to the gardening world and want to create a healthy, thriving ecosystem?
Squash can get wiped out via soil conditions which are too alkaline. IMHO Pests are attracted by alkalinity. Surface alkalinity will start to decay stalks and brings in pest. Packed wet ground cover like grass clippings, leaves, or even clay non-draining soil will host pests and devastate the crops. Wood chips are great, but horrible if tilled into the soil. Attention to detail is important.
This is something I have had to learn over and over. It is so difficult to put your busy hands in your pockets and let nature balance itself. This is the first year ever that I truly see the benefit of this watchful, but benign approach to pest management. Such an important thing to under.
I have been working very hard for the past three years to establish a natural and organic working environment within my garden, and every year it gets better and more successful. I plant a variety of herbs, onions and garlic, along with a variety of flowers amongst the strawberries and vegetables. I also practiced the chop and drop mulching system, which allows flowers and herbs to establish themselves in their favorite locations throughout the garden. I also allow my herbs and flowers to go to seed for the birds and whatever else enjoys foraging on them. I am quite pleased with how nature works so beautifully together, and the companion planting is also an amazing practice
We live in an extreme cold area where several of the better known beneficials can’t make it, and it is not common to import bugs, since that sometimes doesn’t work out so well. We do have a good assortment of umbelliferae that are hosts to beneficial wasps. I have noticed that our high density biting bugs ease back when the migratory birds return and the nymphs transform into dragonflies. We also leave little shelters and small dishes of water for our frogs and toads, who have a great time keeping bugs down as long as they steer clear of our chickens!
Thanks for providing this in written form. I get much more out of it when I can read and refer back and reread if necessary rather than trying to listen and take notes.