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February 2018
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I am constantly asked for advice about “pests”.  If I were to do a pie chart on the questions I’m asked about – pests would be more than a few pieces of said pie. 

This is always my answer:  I don’t do much about pests.  I pick them when I see them and I can.  When I can’t I plant more plants.  I plant lots of flowers and umbeliferous plants and I keep wild areas and I don’t worry about weeds.  I let pests take a foothold into the garden.  That’s it!

And I swear that the reaction I get is not much different than if I told people that I believed in the Loch Ness Monster.  I don’t know if people pity me or they think I’m being tooooo zen about it.  But I am always left with the desire to yell “PLEASE BELIEVE ME!!!”

You don’t need to spray pesticides.  You don’t need to worry. You just have to do the right thing and believe it or not the universe will balance itself out. 

So today I’m out checking on my potatoes and I’m ever vigilant against potato beetles (before anyone suggests it – these are not potato beetles!).  I’ve noticed some small holes in the leaves though.  But I was shocked once again (I’m not sure why at this point) to find this:

Larval stage one day!

Pupa the next!


And then there’s this beautiful beast!

Tiphiid wasp!

Nature reacts.  The reaction to what?  This:

Flea beetles!  Which couldn’ t harm the 3 foot tall potato plants if they tried. 

If I had saw the shot holes and dusted with Sevin or sprayed I’d still have flea beetles but no ladybugs and no wasps – PLEASE BELIEVE ME!!!

20 comments to PLEASE BELIEVE ME!!!

  • Blitz1976

    I believe you Jason. Ive been doing this for the last 4 year with success. There are very few pests that can’t be controlled with the methods you use.


  • Mrickboyd

    Last year, our tomato plants were 8′ tall. Everyone said to use Sevin, because my tomatoes would never make it through the tomato work attack. Well, we did get tomato worms, but they actually helped thin the leaves so the tomatoes would ripen. The few I did find and pick off were delicious – my chickens tell me.

  • My worst pest are aphids, they’re really hard to get rid of once they attack. Luckily (?) they usually aggregate on one or two plants per crop so I just pull or trim that one and that sometimes prevents an immediate spread. But I never use pesticides and I don’t blast them with water because it never seems to work and my water bill is high enough!

  • Karen

    I agree. Mostly.  I let the bugs battle it out and it seems like the less I do the more the good bugs win.  We had a plague of grasshoppers one year and the next year the spider population increased to take advantage of the food source.  I have added wild areas, bird feeders and nesting areas, I grow lots of marigolds and other flowers… encouraging wild flowers and local grasses. This year I bought a tab of the Tiphild wasp.  

    There are three pests that have almost defeated me though.  The squash vine borer and squash bugs have won three seasons in a row… They are determined to kill the plants all the squash plants, not just share the leaves or a fruit or two.  I have not determined what their natural predator is.  Do you know? Most articles talk about netting the plants or hand picking or using neem to kill them.  Last year I did try diatomaceous earth with no success. 

    The third pest that has almost run me out of the garden is the chigger.  They don’t bother the plants but instead they are miserable blood sucking vermin.  They eat me.  They were so bad last summer I am seriously dreading the fight this year.  And once again, articles about them do not discuss natural methods of getting rid of them.  

  • Jason

    I never found water to work when I tried it.  LOL

  • Jason

    Awesome.  You and your chickens ate well!

  • Jason

    You got my back Rob!

  • Jason

    I’ve always had squash bugs.  Never can get rid of them but they never could knock the plants down so I didn’t worry about them.  Squash vine borers require growing a resistant variety or planting after the first time it gets to 90-95 degrees.  I also hear that beneficial nematodes help.

    As for chiggers.  Man I don’t know what to tell you.  I think I am pretty much immune to all biting insects (except ticks).  I think it has to do with diet.  I like to eat pungent and spicy things.  Olives, garlic, take a shot of apple cider vinegar every night.  I think my blood is to them like the aliens blood in Alien!  Jason

  • Erollins

    I had two garden interlopers (not pests.) That seems to be getting the best of me -squash vine borers and slugs. I started by moving the location of my squash plants as well as mixing squash into my garden so that they were not in one spot. I didn’t get rid of them but I vastly reduced their numbers and was actually able to raise some squash. I found that mixing summer and winter squash helped (squash vine borers don’t seem to bother the winter squash.) On a tip, I started spreading my woodstove ash around the outside of all my beds. Slugs (so far) are greatly reduced. Appearantly they don’t like the ash. Everything else I let go. The rabbits – I use that organic method (ruger 10-22.) The deer that get past my dogs get the more powerful (30-06.) And the tree rats get saved for later. The universe takes care of evrything else.

  • Mil

    You don’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster?  😉

  • Matthew in gooseneck

    I believe you. I have been listening a long time. You are fairly consistent.

  • Nat

    Why didn’t you post this LAST YEAR!?

    I was freaking out b/c my potatoes were ‘dying off’ and there were the bugs you showed everywhere.  I thought they were PB’s, but found out after going on massive killing sprees, they weren’t!  My potatoes were just ready.

    So much to learn….

  • Kenny

    I’ve stumbled into permaculture the lazy way and learn more all the time.  I have yet to see any large slugs this year. Either it’s been too cool or the young, small tender slugs I’ve seen are getting consumed. If I was a crow, I’d eat them!

  • Jcolliard

    I just started listening and became a member a few months ago. (Got a new iPod for Xmas and thought I would put it to good use!) Thanks for opening my eyes (literally!) to fostering a habitat for beneficials. I hadn’t been spraying (well my husband did on occasion use pyrethrum on thrips and spider mites) but I’d been obsessively weeding until this year I realized I had hundreds of ladybugs and lacewings laying eggs and living in my “weeds”! I probably would have never thought about clumps of weeds being much of a habitat unless I had listened to your shows. I am actually going to leave several perennial rows of wildflowers strategically in the garden where I don’t weed as much with the hope that it becomes a true habitat for my beneficials in the years to come. Also, I had aphids all over my chard, which was covered with fabric to bulk it up a bit. I decided to uncover it and let the ladybugs have access to it once I heard that they need to feed on aphids in order to reproduce. Now my chard is on its way back to health and I’m hoping I have quite a large ladybug colony after this. So far seems to be working. I snapped a bunch of photos the other day as well.

  • Jason

    Yeah the vine borers seem to be very specific on pumpkins and larger vined squash.  Sometimes the only solution is to not provide an environment for the problem.  So I completely agree with you.

  • Jason

    Sorry Nat.  LOL

  • Jason

    I know here it was entirely too hot for them to make a dent.  I saw a lot of snails though but they were in cooler areas.  Strange how little changes have big effects.

  • Jason

    J – I love this story.  Not just because it backs up what I’m saying here but that you found success.


  • Nat

    Not sure if this helps, but some potential ammo in your batte against Squash vine borers.

    I read in a book where the author either used empty toilet or paper towel rolls and ‘collared’ his squash plants an inch or 2 deep to try and keep the SVB away from his squash.  He cut the ‘collar’ open then placed it around the vine, then buried it 2 inches (?) deep. 

    If you want to get more serious, take the ends off a can of tomatoes, regular OR larger size, depending on the size of your plant and push it an couple inches deep into the soil.  Remove the can when the vine is sufficient in diameter to not be affected by the SVB.  You can just leave the paper collars as they will decompose with heat, rain and micro organisms.

    I am no authority on SVB’s and haven’t tried it either as I haven’t had any in my Northern garden YET, but apparently he had some success.

    His other Diamond tip (my designation)  is with getting carrots to sprout.  I had a heck of a time getting carrots to sprout.  He suggested planting the seeds, wetting the soil, then putting a board over top.  Check after a few days and evry day after that to see if they have sprouted.  Once they have, pull the board off and away you go. 

    I waited too long to check and the carrots got leggy, but they were fine in no time and I had a great crop of carrots. 

     I suppose there is nothing magical about the board (maybe there is??) but I imagine you could do the same with any cover that would keep the moisture in.  Maybe the wood wouldn’t heat up as much as black plastic.  I dunno.

    The author’s name was Cam Mather and his book was ‘The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook’.  He is no botanist but a do it yourselfer that has lots of gardening experience.  HIs writing tone is much like Jason’s – laid back and ‘folksy’.  He writes extensively on each vegetable he grows in Ontario, Canada and has plenty of paragraphs and info.  Its a bit of a different style from a DK book with beautiful glossy photos and bullet point writing.  The inside is B and W but the information is there.

    I have no affiliation with the author but enjoyed his book and its one of my favorites of the many gardening books I’ve read or taken out from the library.  Feel free to edit this jason if it feels like a shameless plug.