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The Balance of Nature

April 27th, 2009

I saw this ladybug in my garden this past fall, so I snapped a photo. I thought it would be a great reminder of how all things in the garden work together.
lady-bug
Our garden health is like our personal health: maintaining a healthy foundation limits problems now and down the road. When you maintain healthy soil in your garden you’ll have healthy plants and you won’t have too many problems with insect infestations or plant diseases.
four-lined-plant-bug
When bad insects come they are usually followed by the beneficial ones that prey on them. This is the balance of nature, and it’s important to keep that balance.
praying-mantis-web1
When we step in trying to fix things we perceive as problems with chemicals and quick fixes, we often only do further damage. Plant disease and insect infestations are often symptoms of a deeper problem. If we resort to the quick fix spray, often our problems will persist or multiply because we aren’t fixing the actual cause, we are only treating the symptoms.
yellow-butterfly
Even so called green, non-toxic, and all natural products often kill the beneficial insects along with the bad ones. So what are we to do if we don’t want to upset this natural balance? We’ll be exploring this all this week here at Chiot’s Run.

Are you an organic gardener, or do you use chemical fertilizers, herbicides & pesticides?

15 Comments to “The Balance of Nature”
  1. Mangochild on April 20, 2009 at 5:49 am

    You take beautiful pictures. I don’t just commercial pesticides, etc. Last fall I did use a bought manure mix, but this season I’m trying as much as possible to just use my own compost. Its interesting, but since I’ve started the garden, I’ve overcome my fear of bugs/insects in general. All my life, I was terrified of all insects and bugs, even running in terror about the house to avoid them and locking doors to keep them contained. But that seems to have disappeared last summer. Maybe its related to what you said, how there are beneficial insects as well as the bad ones, and that they don’t hurt me personally. My mind is so focused on caring for the garden that it doesn’t seem to have room for fear.

    Mangochild’s last blog post.. An Experience From Foodshare

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  2. ChristyACB on April 20, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Really beautifully done photos!

    I have to buy ladybugs here. In my environment, which is at the transition from urban and suburban, the beneficials don’t stand much of a chance. When I buy beneficials, like ladybugs, they are gone after about 48 hours, dispersed into the environment around me, and I’m happy to do it. I hope they come back when I have something good for them to eat.

    ChristyACB’s last blog post.. Backyard Predatory Frenzy

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  3. Daphne on April 20, 2009 at 7:28 am

    My most common means of pest control is to hand pick. I used to use things like soap and Bt also, but haven’t in over a decade. To keep out the caterpillars, I use row covers.

    Last year I was a bit at my wits end with slugs. I really got tired of hand picking them at night. I almost got some iron phosphate. Now that I have access to coffee grounds I might try that. I really hate slugs. With last years rainy weather my toads just couldn’t keep up, nor could I.

    Daphne’s last blog post.. Corn, Champion Sprinter

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    • Susy on April 28, 2009 at 2:36 pm

      One year we had slugs really bad here. But the next year our toad populations increased to keep up. I have found that if you leave a few boards (not treated) laying around the garden the toads love to live under them!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. bughunter99 on April 27, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Wonderful pictures. I’ve never seen a lady bug with that many spots before. Mine is a pesticide free garden and slowly but surely I’m converting the neighbors.

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  5. kristin on April 27, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Interestingly, the MiL and I were just discussing this very thing. When my husband’s grandfather did the gardening (in our same spot–that’s been the garden plot for I think 80 years), he used a lot of pesticides, and he had a LOT of infestations. Then, after he died and my MiL took over, she stopped using them for the most part (we do still use Rotenone), and now we have lots of spiders and lady bugs and something that eats the potato beetles YAY! Plus, five billion earthworms. I remember the first time I heard that gardens subjected to lots of pesticides don’t even have worms in the soil. That’s just weird and creepy.

    kristin’s last blog post.. Late to the Party

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    • Susy on April 27, 2009 at 12:20 pm

      We had the same problem when we moved in here. The people before us had used tons of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and I didn’t find an earth worm for the first 5 years we lived here. After adding manure & compost for the past 7 years, I now find a few earth worms here and there when I dig. I’m hoping I’ll have more and more each year!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Karen on April 27, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I will be looking forward to reading each post this week. I have a hard time with the squash cut worms killing my zucchini plants at the base of the plant. I resorted to buying something last year to kill them because I was losing my plants every year. Any ideas or suggestions of something better. I do try to compost the garden every spring.

    Reply to Karen's comment

    • Susy on April 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

      I had cut worms killing my beet seedlings last year, I finally got rid of them by going to the garden each morning and checking for downed seedlings. When I spotted one I would dig an inch deep in concentric circles around the spot, usually you’ll find the worm there. After finding them I’d smash them!

      You can also add beneficial nematodes to the soil to help with cutworms.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. The Stylish Gardening Blog on April 27, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Amazing! Your photos are beautiful….looking forward to the rest of these posts about keeping the ecosystem happy…
    I have horrified my neighbours and my in-laws by announcing I’m an organic gardener and don’t use pesticides. They think I’m a total hippy. I think they need to chuck out their chemical weapons!

    Reply to The Stylish Gardening Blog's comment

  8. Julia on April 28, 2009 at 9:46 am

    I think this is so fascinating. I first learned about the symbiosis in nature reading Barbara Kingsolver’s *Prodigal Summer*.

    My neighbors and I usually share ladybugs.

    Julia’s last blog post.. Rejuvenating Salad

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  9. What’s Going On on April 28, 2009 at 11:23 am

    [...] Chiot’s Run ponders insects and the balance of nature. [...]

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  10. warren on April 28, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    We are all natural in our gardens. It usually turns out that we lose some things but not enough for us to add chemicals. I work my bees the same way. In general, I avoid any unnatural chemicals. I just don’t want that stuff in me!

    warren’s last blog post.. Installing a window

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    • Susy on April 28, 2009 at 2:38 pm

      Usually the things you lose are plants that weren’t up to par, or out of their native habitat. That’s one of the bad things about losing biological diversity. Along the way we’ve lost so many kinds of plants that did well in our area.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. wiseacre on April 28, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Love the buggy photos.

    No chemicals go anywhere near my gardens. I want a healthy living soil. It took a number of years to revive the garden area where the previous owners used fertilizers and pesticides for so long there was barely any soil left and the area was 4 inches below grade.

    wiseacre’s last blog post.. Field Horsetail

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