Truth or Consequences: A Beneficial Insect Pop Quiz

Praying MantisTake the Planet Natural true or false test and find out how much you know about beneficial insects. It’s also a fun way to learn more about how “good bugs” can help you grow a better garden.

1. Beneficial insects only dine on other insects. True or False

False. Insects. It’s not just what’s for dinner for beneficial insects. Depending on their life cycle, beneficial insects spend time where they exclusively eat nectar and pollen. This is important to know if you want to keep beneficials healthy. You need to ensure an adequate supply of all food types for beneficial insects to keep them strong. Treat them well by growing what’s known as “insectary plants.” Hedge rows work, but if you don’t have the space, consider planting a border of dwarf fruit and flowering trees mixed with flowering shrubs and perennials. Other insectary plants include fennel, angelica, coriander, dill and wild carrot. (more…)

Oh Deer… Not My Garden!

Deer in GardenKeeping Bambi Away with Natural Deer Repellents

Nothing can be more picturesque than the sight of a deer loping through a field – unless it’s on its way to the garden and chews your plants to the ground. That’s when Bambi, the beautiful beast, turns into a destructive pest that you don’t want around.

It’s happening more and more as deer populations grow and humans build homes in what was once rural deer habitat.

What do deer eat? Anything vegetative, although they become less picky the hungrier they get (just like humans). They also eat a lot. The average adult male can consume more than five pounds of food each day. (more…)

Natural Born Pest Killers

Scary SpiderAt Planet Natural, we offer natural pest control solutions that are guaranteed safe and effective with as little impact on the environment as possible. Most pest problems can be solved by natural means, eliminating the need for toxic pesticides or harmful chemicals altogether.

Our mission is to provide you with a solution for common household and garden pests with options from least toxic to more aggressive. From barriers and traps to minimally-processed products derived from natural compounds and plant oils, Planet Natural only carries the best. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. (more…)

IPM for Home Gardens

Pest ManagementLong term natural pest control is the most cost effective approach to managing insect pests. This method provides stable, continuous suppression of pests by promoting their natural enemies. The long term approach is also the least toxic method of controlling insects. Chemicals, used only as a last resort, are normally not needed.

Why not just spray?

Most chemical insecticides have very poor aim: they cannot target a particular kind of insect, but blast everything in their path, killing not just the pests but their predators as well. The white flies will go, but so will the ladybugs which feed on them. This means, ironically, that these products are effective for only a limited time (see The Pesticide Problem). Because they cut such a broad swath through the insect kingdom, they leave a “hole,” an ecological niche, into which the pests can easily return–unless you spray again, and again. Toxic insecticides, therefore, are a tactic of limited use. (more…)

Grasshopper Control with Modern Baits

Grasshopper NymphsSemaspore Bait, a Persistent Biological, and EcoBran for Quick Knockdown

How To Use

Modern baits provide lasting protection from grasshoppers one which:

  • Kills grasshoppers at their source — the hatching beds — where they are concentrated, before they can migrate to your crop.
  • Persists throughout the hatching and growing season and at least through the following year.
  • Provides quick-kill of any survivors from the hatching beds or migrants from other areas which might threaten your crop.

Semaspore Bait (the Nosema locustae protozoa attached to wheat bran) is the bait which is applied to the hatching beds — grassy areas, particularly those with southern exposure and more-sandy soil. This biological agent is only toxic to grasshoppers, killing about half those in the hatching area, and infecting most of the remainder. These infected survivors (which eat little and lay few and infected eggs) are necessary to infect new hatchlings and migrants, through cannibalism — this provides the persistent protection. The disease also carries-over to the next year via the infected egg cases and infected cadavers which overwinter. (more…)

How to Get Rid of Bugs Organically

Bug ProblemThe more we discover about synthetic pesticides, herbicides and insecticides the more we learn how unhealthy they are for the environment and the people and animals that live in it. Pesticides can create more problems than they solve.

Spraying garden chemicals to get rid of bugs and weeds not only cause health risks, they often aren’t even that effective. Initially, they will kill off a lot of pests, but eventually these pests can develop resistance to the pesticide and come back even stronger. Another problem is the side effects many synthetic pesticides can have on unintended targets (think of DDT and birds).

The best plan is to avoid the need to use pest control in the first place by starting with healthy fertile soil, matching your plants to the soil type, ensuring proper sunlight levels and watering conditions, and using appropriate organic fertilization and pruning, when necessary. But, if that doesn’t work there are many alternatives to chemical pesticides that can reduce pests while leaving a healthy environment for your plants, pets and family. (more…)

Lawn and Garden Chemicals

Mixing Garden ChemicalsThe Problem with Pesticides, Herbicides and Fertilizers

At one time garden chemicals were championed as the panacea for agricultural shortages and deficits. Pesticides, it was said, were the technological answer to dealing with insects, weeds and other intruders that nature sent the farmer’s way. Herbicides increased yields by decreasing weeds. And chemicals kept soils fertile, making for more vigorous, more productive crops. Over time, we’ve learned that these claims are exaggerated if not completely false.

But these synthetic products have a down-side, one that threatens the environment and the very future of food production. Chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides poison our waters, our soils, other living creatures and our own bodies. Their effectiveness, touted by big budget, corporate-driven marketing plans, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In light of these trade-offs, and the fact that healthy and potentially more effective organic alternatives exist, why should we risk our soils, our water and the health of our children? (more…)

Good Bugs in Your Garden

Ladybug LarvaePredators, Parasites and Pollinators — oh my!

Attracting or importing beneficial insects — “the good bugs” — into your yard or garden is a great way to reduce the number of detrimental insect pests without having to resort to toxic pesticides or insecticides.

There are four categories of beneficial insects:

Predators are generally larger than their prey and consume many pest insects throughout their lifetime. They are often considered general feeders, which means that they eat a variety of insect species. Unfortunately, some predators, like the voracious praying mantis, will eat just about anything in its path, including other beneficial insects. Both immature and adult predatory insects consume garden pests and some feed on pollen and nectar at various stages of their life-cycle. (The picture here shows a ladybug larvae feeding on aphids.) (more…)

Bacillus thuringiensis Products

Bacillus thuringiensisBacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a natural occurring, soil-borne bacteria that has been used since the 1950s for natural insect control. It consists of a spore, which gives it persistence, and a protein crystal within the spore, which is toxic. That toxic protein differs, depending on the subspecies of Bt producing it, yielding a variance of Bt toxic to different insect species (or none at all). When the bacteria is consumed by certain insects, the toxic crystal is released in the insects highly alkaline gut, blocking the system which protects the pest’s stomach from its own digestive juices. The stomach is penetrated, and the insect dies by poisoning from the stomach contents and the spores themselves. This same mechanism is what makes Bt harmless to birds, fish and mammals whose acidic gut conditions negate the bacteria’s affect.

Recently, Bt has been questioned because of its inclusion in Monsanto’s genetically modified corn and cotton. The difference between the Bt used by organic farmers around the world and that genetically inserted into Monsanto’s corn is dramatic. Naturally occurring Bt is contained within the bacterium. The Bt gene inserted into genetically-modified corn contains only the final toxin without its containment. (more…)

Vegetable Gardening 101

Organic VegetablesIf the thought of a ripe, juicy tomato makes your mouth water, or imagining snapping a crisp pea makes your fingers itch, then vegetable gardening is for you. Everyone knows that home grown veggies and fruits taste a million times better than the varieties purchased at the grocery store. So, go ahead and grow your own — it’s easy to do.

Planning Your Garden

Whether you are starting a new garden or improving an existing one, it’s best to start with a plan. A well-planned vegetable garden will not only be more successful, it will be better organized and easier to manage. Consider the following: (more…)

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