Hi Garden Gurus,

This week we left the garden and brought all our participants inside. We were seeing pest problems up the yin yang at all our different sites–cabbage moths, flea beetles, potato bugs, harlequin bugs, various caterpillars, and just not good things. Man.

We decided a presentation on the various insects and organic means of defense against them would be useful. We also talked about how to encourage beneficial insects–my favorite is flat-top flowers. (Yarrow, anyone?)

According to “Farming for Bee Conservation: A Whole Foods Market and Xerces Society Educational Program” some organic pesticides like Spinosad and Pyrethrin negatively impact bee populations. This made it more imperative than ever for us to look to building up healthy soil and other non-chemical means of defense (row covers, cover cropping, throwing insects into soapy water, destroying residual populations in the soil, trap crops). Healthy soils mean healthy plants, and the healthier a plant is the more it can sustain insect damage without giving up the ghost, and defend itself. And we stressed the importance of hygiene–destroy infested crop residue, etc. The more time you spend in your garden the more you are aware of how your plants are doing–you connect with them and are sensitive to changes, which means often you know something is out of balance before a serious infestation occurs.

We reviewed people’s soil tests and explained how to read a soil test, going into Ph and the various nutrients and their importance.

We all learned a lot this week. Now I must go spend some time with my plants.