Thursday, March 4, 2010

Francis Rules

Last year I wrote about Aphids on Broccoli and I have discovered one of the interesting things about blogs is that they remain active.  Someone asked a question in relation to this post only last week, "What type of aphids infect broccoli?". Cabbage Aphids! Anyway I went back to the blog post and re-discovered a great tip from John, "leave some Broccoli to flower, this will attract Lady Birds" and Lady Birds just love to suck the guts out of Aphids.

OK so I like the idea but timing becomes an issue, waiting for the current crop to flower leaves my Broccoli exposed to the voracious Aphid.  I was also a little concerned that if Mr Lady Bird (I love Francis from A Bug's Life)

Follow this link to see the image source.
was in fact a carnivore would he really be attracted to flowers?
Well it didn't take much 
research to find that there are all sorts of plants that attract a whole range of predatory insects. And guess what! they are nearly all plants that we grow regularly.  French Marigold, Basil, Parsley & Coriander, Mint, Chives and Nasturtium.

That's companion planting!  Yes, and I need to do a lot more work on what plants are best suited to growing with other plants.  But just keep this in mind controlling pests with beneficial insects is all about balancing one population to control the other.  There has to be allowance for a small amount of plant damage because the predators need a population of pests to feed on.  And don't take your eyes off your crop for too long, if conditions suit the pest their population can explode beyond the predator's capacity to manage it.  I certainly can't forget the strong (savage) response I had to suggesting that Earwigs are actually beneficial predators, I'm not giving up you know.  I believe that experienced gardeners can develop very robust ecosystems that don't need much support but novices often give up due to failures while they are still learning.

Any way I'd like to develop some crop specific planting guides to help people when they're in a garden centre buying Broccoli or Tomatoes so if you have any suggestions please let me know.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for another great post, I'm off to look into companion planting in more detail now as I want those ladybirds to come back to my garden!
    Other than neighbours spraying pesticides, do you know of any other reason why ladybirds would not appear this year?


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