Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Garden photo of little toad on apple illustrates natural pest control

Over the years I've been developing my yard into an edible landscape inspired by permaculture principles. I don't use any poisons to kill weeds or insects. I do this for many reasons. The foremost reason is that I don't want to poison myself or my family. I also choose natural methods because they work long term and don't destroy the ability of my land to be productive.

In the book Gaia's Garden I learned how using insecticides sets in motion an ever deteriorating situation with the insect life on the land. Insecticides kill predatory insects and the insects that trouble the plants. Predatory insects reproduce more slowly than the herbivores. Therefore once the insecticide wears off the bugs that trouble the plants come back quickly whereas the bugs that eat them take longer to recover from the poisoning. The result is an ecosystem out of balance in which the herbivore insects have the upper hand and their predators are always lagging. People who manage insects chemically therefore always need to use more poison because their infestations come back with vigor because there are no predators.

Because I don't use poisons my bug damage is minimal. My goal with my garden is to craft an ecosystem that includes giving me as much food as possible. Predatory insects can reproduce and hunt and they keep other insects in check.

Other insect predators abound as well. I have snakes, frogs, and toads all over too. The lovely picture above shows a tiny toad perched on a ripening apple. All toad has to do is wait for something to land on the apple and then it eats it. That little apple tree has not been sprayed with anything by the way and the apples have no damage whatsoever, which I mostly credit to the wasps that are prevalent in my yard. Wasps lay eggs on caterpillars that hatch and kill the caterpillars. So if you have lots of wasps, you will be troubled by caterpillars very little.

Because it is August, my garden is producing several pounds of food every day. I'm busy cooking it, freezing it, and of course canning it.

If you'd like to learn from my experiences with home canning and get a few good recipes, please read The Home Canning Guide for Everyone Who Eats. I published it in 2011 and many people have appreciated its content.

You can buy a printable PDF ebook version for $0.99 from Falbe Publishing.

Or download it from your preferred retailer: