For the inside scoop, Earth911 sat down with organic gardening expert Barbara Pleasant to chat about pesticide-free ways to keep harmful insects and other unwanted critters out of your garden. From crop rotation to herb planting, here are seven back-to-basics tips that you just have to try.
1. Plant more than just veggies
Let’s begin by saying that not all garden critters are bad. Common garden-lovers like bees, wasps, birds, frogs, butterflies and ground-dwelling beetles actually eat harmful insects and help to cross-pollinate fruit-bearing plants – making them a huge plus for maintaining a mini ecosystem in your backyard plot.
“It’s very much a living thing, a vegetable garden,” Pleasant says. “So, the old model where you just wiped everything out calls for a very different approach.”
Instead of trying to keep your garden completely free of birds, bugs and other “wild things,” incorporate a diverse collection of plants to attract beneficial critters to your plot. Once your garden has a good balance of beneficial animals and insects, pest deterrence will be a much easier job. Pleasant suggests planting plenty of fragrant flowers, which are known to attract bees, butterflies and other “beneficials.”
Common culinary herbs, such as thyme, oregano and rosemary, are also magnets for beneficial critters, the garden expert says. She also suggests planting borage, a seldom-grown herb that sprouts dark blue flowers and attracts large bumblebees that stave off harmful insects.
For more information on which plants attract the most beneficials to your garden, check out this guide from the University of Florida IFAS Extension or consult a university extension service in your area.
Get More From Your Flowers: Edible Flowers For Your Garden.