Having a wildlife-friendly garden is a wonderful experience for all ages. To ensure your garden is safe for all creatures, DO NOT USE PESTICIDES. Grow your garden in harmony with nature, not against it. Here are some tips to grow naturally.
1. Let them Dine
If you see insects on your plants, take a minute to actually examine what they are doing. If they are just nibbling a little bit, don't start scheming an attack. Most plants can actually sustain minor insect damage. If the insects are eating a plant that was sickly to begin with, consider letting them have that one and put your energy into the ones that are healthy enough to resist insect damage.
2. Grow the Right Plants
Consider growing plants that are native to your area. The native species are the ones that are genetically ready to deal with natural predators in your garden. Native plants make beautiful, functional and environmentally smart additions to any type of garden. For starters, native plants and animals are part of a region's web of life. All living organisms are interdependent and a part of this complex system. The quality of the air we breathe, the soil in which we grow our food and the water we drink is affected by the health of this natural system. As more land is developed for roads, industry and homes, we are altering the balance of this web. By planting native plant gardens, you can help to preserve the native plants that are disappearing from our natural areas as well as create small oases for the wildlife in our neighborhoods.
3. Encourage Natural Predators
There are many beneficial animals that feed on insects harming your plants. These include ladybugs, praying mantids, ambush bugs, lacewings, robber flies, assassin bugs, ground beetles, birds, frogs and lizards. Keep a small water source near your garden, even if just in a small bowl, and change the water regularly. Grow plants with small blossoms like sweet alyssum and dill, which attract predatory insects who feed on flowers' nectar between attacks on pests.
4. Use Organic Substances
If none of the above works, you can try natural products that affect specific insects, won't harm humans, pets or wildlife, and that degrade quickly in the environment. Among the best of those products isÂ Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacteria that you apply to your plants to disrupt the digestion of caterpillars and other leaf-eaters. Be sure to identify the pest positively before you buy this product because each strain of Bt affects specific kinds of insects. Horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps and garlic and/or hot pepper sprays also work well against many pests.
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