Organic Gardening and Bugs

Squash Bug Nymph

I have focused on the soil for the last (large) number of years always hoping to get it just right, to have an exceptional year. Truth is, as I re-examine this idea, I have begun to realize that I want to validate something; many things. Time spent. Composting. Hauling off every single bag of leaves and grass clippings I have found on every curb I drive by. Tediously pulling and fighting bermuda grass. Reading and studying. Hours spent poking through every single inch of the many gardens’ soil I have started, nurtured and left behind.

Perhaps a better mulch would be the secret. Maybe crop rotation would prove to be the secret ingredient, even for the home garden. While you won’t fool the insect pests for one minute, the soil benefits are not disputable. Green beans before tomatoes is never a bad idea. What IS the secret ingredient that would prove the greatest variable to tie all the ends together, a perfectly stitched quilt of nutritious food, plant health, and soil. Growing the perfect food…

Well isn’t it about the way it looks? The way it tastes? Do we test our food quality? Do we KNOW it is more nutritious, sense it?

I learned a new word today. salubrious It means “favorable to or promoting health” Sounds glorious, doesn’t it? Salubrious. Is our food salubrious? How do we know?

I have wanted to be able to attribute a spectacular year on excellent soil management. I know, vain sounding isn’t it?

I continue year after year, my most accomplished traits, persistence, belief in organic gardening, and dire disdain for all things chemical.

In the meantime, I enlist my best control measure, hand picking. I read somewhere …

It is an acceptable control. In fact, it is an honorable practice. It is reasonable in a garden.

It is no more time-consuming than other gardening practices, does not require expensive purchases, and hand picking is, of course, environmentally friendly. As the writers at PotatoBeetle.org (where much research was referred to in writing the article on the Colorado Potato Beetle) wrote,

It can also be a relaxing and somewhat therapeutic experience – after all, from the biological point of view we have evolved to be hunters and gatherers, not computer programmers or hedge fund managers.

I have consistently believed that perfect growing conditions are the best form of pest control. Nutritious soil feeds and grows nutritious food, right? Strong hearty plants are quite resistant to disease. I have believed that I just was wasn’t quite getting it right. It is a heavy, tedious burden to carry this belief around. I am starting to doubt that it is entirely correct. My plants are strong, the garden soil excellent. The garden has a healthy blend of mulch and water.

But I had a very bad feeling when I put the garden to bed for the winter last year that it would not be the last of the squash bugs. Healthy plant or not, no plant could survive the double whammy attack of the squash bug and squash vine borer together.

Okay, it is clearly obvious I am in mourning for my three lost zucchini plants. I am simply not willing to use chemicals (my weakness is grass killer to keep bermuda grass out and while I haven’t used it, it beckons me from the garage while I pretend I don’t hear) and I don’t have the time to hand pick effectively. (I don’t live where I garden) STRESSED MUCH? Theraputic it is.

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