alliums ameraucana Anthony Bourdain aphids Appleseed Permaculture aquaponics arthritis artichokes Asian Vegetables aussie basil baby chicks baby turnips bearss lime bee keeping beet greens beneficial insects benner tree farm Biochar Bitter Melon blight blooming hill farm boothby blonde cucumber brix broccoli brussels sprouts cabbage cabbage hill farm camp hill farm cancer caraflex celeriac chicken coop chickens children chinese tamale chives cilantro cilantro root coconut cold frames collard greens Compost coriander corn crop rotation cruciferous crucifers cucumber Dan Barber dan kittredge Dave Llewellyn detox dirty dozen dragon fruit Dutch white clover dwarf citrus eggplant Elderberries factory farms farm to table farmer's market farmers markets Fava beans ffarm to table fish oil flea beetle flowers food allergies food combining food miles founding farmers four wind growers Fred Kirschenmann french bulldog G6pd deficiency garlic garlic festival garlic scapes geese Glynwood grass-fed beef Great Outdoors Listening Tour green tomatoes greenhouse growing indoors Hanalei Hemlock Hill Farm heritage turkey heritage USA hudson valley farms hurricane Irene hyssop iced tea infections influenza Insect control isothiocyanates joan gussow jolie lampkin joong kaffir lime kale Kauai kohlrabi korean licorice mint Ladybugs late blight leeks lettuces local food locust tree maine avenue fish market menhaden meyer lemon mycelia mycorrhizal natural fertilizers nectary nightshades No Reservations Nurse cropping nutrient density okra organic Baby food organic christmas tree Organic Pest Control Parsley Paul tappenden peas Permaculture pesticides pesto petite watermelon plant sap pH plymouth barred rock pole beans potatoes preserving food purple basil qunice Radish Greens rainbeau ridge farm raised beds rampicante raw food real food campaign red hook Rockland Farm Alliance ronnybrook farm row covers salt-preserved duck eggs sambucus nigra seed saving seedlings Sheet mulching small space soil analysis soil blocks soil conductivity sorrel Squash Vine Borer star fruit sugar snap peas sustainability sustainable fishing Swiss Chard tabbouleh TEDx Manhattan terracing three sisters tomato sauce tomatoes trellis trovita orange turkana farms Tuttle Farm urban zen volt white clover winter harvest Winter Squash Young Farmers Conference
Indispensable Books and Resources
  • Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
    by Dave Jacke, Eric Toensmeier
  • The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
    The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
    by Eliot Coleman
  • The Biological Farmer: A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biological System of Farming
    The Biological Farmer: A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable Biological System of Farming
    by Gary F. Zimmer
  • The Garden Primer: Second Edition
    The Garden Primer: Second Edition
    by Barbara Damrosch
  • 1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
    1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
    Organic Insect Control
  • Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.
    Acres U.S.A.

    The best farming and growing magazine money can buy!

  • Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks
    Seed Starter Soil Block Maker Makes 4 Medium Blocks

    2" Soil Blocker

  • Mini Soil Blocker
    Mini Soil Blocker
  • New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    New York City Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty
    by Emily Brooks
  • What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health
    What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health
    by Tasneem Bhatia, Editors of Prevention

 

 

 

 

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Friday
Mar112011

Luring Beneficial Insects: A Permaculture Plan for Pest Control

Dill: Check out the tiny hoverfly on the bottom rightPermaculture is a system of agriCULTURE that is PERManent.  It is a perennial polyculture of plantings and it's designed to be low-maintenance and food producing.  This spring we are gearing up to convert a small swath of property alongside the annuals growing area to an edible forest garden using permaculture principles.  While we are busy seeding away for ourselves and our plant sales, part of what I'm trying to plan for is a wide range of flowering plants that will attract beneficial insects.  The trick is to have enough flowering plants from spring through late fall to ensure the presence of these welcome bugs.  These are called "nectary plants" by Permies.

There are 2 types of beneficial insects.  Predatory insects catch and eat pests.  Common examples are ladybugs and hover fly larvae.  They have an insatiable appetite for aphids.  By the way, our county's famous "suburban forager" Paul Tappenden tells me he quite likes the taste of aphids and thinks they have a walnut quality about them.  Hmmm.  I'll pass.  The other type are parasitoid insects which lay their eggs on or inside the eggs, larvae, or adults of the pest in question.  When the parasitoid eggs hatch, they devour the pest.  A common example, if you re familiar growing tomatoes, is the tomato hornworm.  In our first year of growing, I uncovered this horrific looking bug while pruning tomatoes.  It was covered with what looked like grains of rice.  I screamed and ran far away figuring the ick factor would be lessened by distance.  Trying to solve the mystery, I googled "green caterpillar with rice" and voila!  I found out that this was a GOOD thing for the garden.  Those rice grains hatch to become baby braconid wasps that devour the host and fly on to find the next hornworm.  What did we do before the internet?

So the trick is to plan out a place to attract these good bugs by planting nectary plants.  One of the best types of nectary plants are in the Apiaceae family, previously known as the Umbelliferae family because their flowers produced umbrellas of tiny flowers.  You know this family well: dill, carrots, celery, chervil, cilantro, fennel, parsley, parsnip and angelica.  So when you don't get to eating your herbs or veggies before they flower, don't pull them - leave them in the garden to attract these beneficials!  They are goreous as well.

This is the list of perennials (and some annuals) we're growing specifically for their nectary properties.

Yarrow

Bee Balm

Sweet Cicely

Anise Hyssop

Licorice

Dill

Fennel

A great introduction to Permaculture and its principles and for more information on beneficial insectaries read Gaia's Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture

 

 

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Reader Comments (1)

You will also help attract bees, wasps and butterflies. Our anise hyssop in bloom is always covered with pollinators of all varieties. And when we harvest dill we are careful not to disturb the black swallowtail larvae that invariably show up to feed on it. They don't take much and it is fun to watch them develop from a little black thing about 1/2" long to a beautiful green, black, yellow and white caterpillar almost 2". But you have to look for them carefully once the dill gets thick around July.

March 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDinah

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