Gardening to Complement Your AHO Box
Part 3: Pests, Be Gone!

You’ve plotted your plot, prepared the soil, and lovingly planted the seeds in great hopes of them someday becoming a delicious treat to enjoy.  The last thing any gardener wants to discover is a tiny nub of what once was a head of lettuce, a collapsed plant from its roots getting eaten, or cabbage leaves that have so many holes it could pass as one of grandma’s doilies.  Probably the most frequently asked question I get about organic gardening is how do you keep the critters away?  There are oh so many methods and resources for this (I will share some more of them at the end), but today I’d like to hit on the three biggest solutions our garden has benefited from.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure  
Abundant Harvest Organics is actually one of the superheroes that is responsible for keeping bugs at bay in our garden.  Every year, we add on a carton of ladybugs when they are offered in the spring.  Aphids don’t have a chance against them.  Another worthy investment that I have purchased from AHO are earthworms, who keep the soil aerated and healthy.  Healthy soil means healthy, disease-resistant plants.  What easier way to keep the garden strong than dumping some worms and ladybugs onto it?  There are several other beneficial insects your garden can benefit from (find a list of them here).  Lastly, if you have a problem with moles and gophers like we do, I highly recommend using raised beds and lining the bottom of the bed with a fine, metal mesh found at your local home improvement store to keep them out.  Our neighbors have stopped gardening because of the gopher and mole problem.  The mesh under our beds have kept them out of our plants very successfully.
Read The Signs
Ants might not be a threat to your growing plants.  They might even help pollinate.  However, if you see them scouting about your garden, it can mean they are looking for a good place to raise their little aphid pets.  They also have symbiotic relationships with meal bugs and scaly insects, who will destroy your garden.  Keep a close eye on your plants and if you start to see evidence of those ants’ nasty friends, it’s time to do battle (find solutions to the top ten pests and how to identify them here).
When You Need A Quick Fix
There are times when I can’t give the garden the attention it needs and it gets eaten by things other than my family.  I like to have a collection of organic artillery in the garden shed at the ready.  Some of my favorites include this organic insect spray and pretty much anything from SaferGrow.
Finding protection above ground from ladybugs and other beneficial bugs and below ground from earthworms and protective mesh will do a world of good to your garden plot.  If you find a plant or two that has been lost to an animal or bug, it doesn’t mean you are a bad gardener.  It means you are a gardener.  Don’t let it get you down!  Gardening is a learning experience.  Even the most experienced gardeners have a bummer crop sometimes.  For more resources on organic gardening and pest control, check out Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia Of Organic Gardening, Organic Gardening Beginner’s Manual, and The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control.  Here’s to a beautiful, thriving, organic garden!

Author Katie Riddle

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