Monday, January 23, 2012

Plan on Some Helpful Visitors

This spring when you are planning your garden, make sure you plant some extra dill, cilantro, basil, and mustard. Instead of harvesting the food, let the plants flower. You can also plant some calendula, baby blue eyes, yarrow, chamomile, and sunflowers. All of these plants are great for bees and other beneficial insects like aphid predators who enjoy the nectar and pollen. This will decrease damage to your crops, and increase pollination.

Below is a photo from our farm last year, featuring a ladybug on some dill. Ladybugs enjoy pollen and nectar, and will also consume large amounts of aphids and other soft bodied insects. Their larvae feed only on insects. If you create alternate food sources for the parents by planting some of these plants, they'll set up shop in your garden or farm.

Another great insect is the hover fly, whose larvae will consume aphids, thrips, scales, and small caterpillars. Hover fly adults dine on nectar and pollen.

There are many other insects that you will find coming to your garden if you plant these really helpful herbs and flowers, and there are tons of different plants depending on where you live that can bring beneficial insects. Remember, your garden is a huge system, with interwoven elements everywhere. Enjoy creating a beautiful ecosystem!

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