The Power of Beneficial Insects

An organic and sustainable garden/landscape/farming operation can take care of itself. Mother Nature has crime fighters that are ready, willing, and very much able to take bad bugs down.

It is extremely rare for me to have any type of pest or disease problem.  I’ve been gardening organically since the late 1980’s, and here at the herb farm since 1996 when we bought the property.  The longer someone grows organically the less likely they are to have a problem, but last year my cucumber vines developed a big pest problem.  Within just a few days my cucumber vines went from lush and green to this:

Lots of dead and dying leaves… a very sad sight

I have so few problems with pests that I don’t know a mite from an aphid, so I can’t tell you what attacked my cucumber vines.  It was something almost microscopic because I couldn’t really see any bad guys, but their damage was painfully evident.

I don’t use any sprays or pest deterrents at all, not even those labeled organic.  I let nature take its course and I’m prepared to lose a crop if that’s the course nature wants to take. Even though the damage was severe I was fairly certain that justice would prevail and the many beneficial insects I have around here would come to my rescue.  So I kept my fingers crossed, my camera ready, and within a day or two the troops came to my rescue.  Lady bugs (actually lady beetles), green lacewings, dragonflies, house flies, and others I couldn’t identify swooped in to help me out!

 Lady beetles to the rescue!

These pictures were taken over a period of 18 days.  From the severe damage shown in the first picture to the new growth and restored health in the picture just above, Mother Nature fixed the problem.  I did nothing except document the process with photos.

I have had people tell me they are organic unless they have a bug or disease problem.  If you spray, dust, or apply pesticide in any way at any time you are NOT organic. Furthermore, not only are you killing the bad bugs but you are also killing the good bugs that kill the bad bugs!  And the use of chemical fertilizer applied to the soil or plants themselves is not organic either.

Organic growing is not an overnight solution.  It takes time, it takes patience, and it takes the understanding that at some point (usually within the first couple years of swearing off pesticides) you will lose a crop to bugs.  But don’t give in. Giving in will take you back to the beginning of your organic journey.  Be patient and be kind to the beneficial insects that will make the journey worthwhile.   Trust me.

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