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|Keeping Pests at Bay Through Diversity|
|Written by Ann Shepphird|
Called the "eco-oracle" by Wine Spectator magazine, "Amigo Bob" Cantisano (below) is a legend in the organic gardening field. I had the opportunity to learn a ton from him during a recent workshop on the Heart of Organic Gardening up at Esalen.
Amigo Bob started with a factoid: There are 70,000 different species of insects in the world and less than 100 are pests in the garden. The rest are our allies. That's pretty cool, huh? We have 69,900 allies! Yea!
So the question becomes: how do we get these allies into our gardens? The answer is through diversity. The greater the diversity, the more stability a garden has. So if you're growing mostly vegetables, you will want to add flowers and herbs and allium (onions, garlic, etc.) as they attract the beneficial insects (those allies we talked about) like ladybugs, which are predators and eat the pests, and wasps, which are parasites and love to lay their eggs within the little buggers.
The reason the pretty flowers attract the ladybug-style predators (and who doesn't love a ladybug? come on!) is that they are omnivores. They eat insects but they also feed on nectar and pollen. They need both so will be attracted to gardens with the diversity they crave.We will follow up with articles with more specifics and tips about keeping gophers and moles and voles at bay (hint: it involves bringing in their predators) but I wanted to get this message out there to any of you having trouble with (or fearing the arrival of) bugs on your tomatoes and want to avoid sprays of any kind -- the quick answer is to get some pretty marigolds or yummy onions and all sorts of other stuff in the ground, too.