Saving Garden Seeds

Saving SeedGardeners have been saving seed ever since we settled into one place and started growing our own food. Thanks to seed saving, and passing them down from one generation to the next, we have the heirloom seeds and plant varieties that are so prized today. It’s only since the end of World War II that growers have had the option of buying affordable, high quality commercial seeds; before that saving your own seeds or trading with neighbors was the only way to procure prospective plants.

Saving garden seeds at the end of each growing season can be a great cost saving measure and a way to duplicate last year’s delectable harvest. It’s also a good way to preserve plants that grow best in your own backyard. By carefully selecting individual plants that flourish in your garden and saving their seed, you can create strains that are well-adapted to local growing conditions. (more…)

The Charm (and Flavors) of Heirloom Vegetables

Heirloom VegetablesPractical and Aesthetic Reasons for Growing America’s Heritage Vegetables

By Bill Kohlhaase, Planet Natural

When it comes to heirloom vegetables, what’s in a name? Plenty when it’s the historic Caseknife Pole Bean, a hardy runner that was the most common bean grown in Civil War-era gardens. Its pods, as you can guess, resemble a knife sheath. Or take the Sutton’s Harbinger Pea, introduced in England by the Sutton Seed Company in 1898 and winner of a Royal Horticultural Merit Award in 1901. One of the earliest peas, then and now, Harbinger lives up to its name by giving the first harvests of the gardening season’s bounty. Then there’s the flavorful Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomato, developed by an Oklahoma-based circus owner, Dr. John Wyche, who fertilized his garden with elephant and tiger manure. (more…)

Venus Fly Traps

Venus Fly TrapHow to grow, feed, and care for these lovely carnivorous indoor plants.

By Kim Haworth

I know this will sound stupid, but I’m sitting in my office weeping into my keyboard because some damn fool stole my Venus Fly Traps. I adored them, and now they are gone. These adorable little plants did everything but talk back to me. All through the summer, they caught everything from yellow jackets to beetles to those big mosquito eaters. I would stop for my morning visit and see the leaves shaking furiously, accompanied by ghastly buzzing. The little plants held onto their prey like grim death. There were even some volunteer Sundews that grew in the same pots with the fly traps and they were absolute murder on the ant population. The little executioners captured everything except spiders, which I have the feeling were too smart to fall for their lures. I have never had plants that gave me so much pleasure, and now they’re with somebody who doesn’t know how to care for them. (more…)

Beneficial Insects for Pest Control

Beneficial InsectHow to properly use beneficial insects to control garden pests.

Although chemical pesticides are widely used in many agricultural systems, the complete reliance on chemicals is no longer a feasible approach to pest control for the following reasons:


The major disadvantage which continues to erode the effectiveness of conventional insecticides is the ability of the pests to develop resistance. Approximately 500 insects and related pests (mites) have shown resistance. In fact, some cannot be controlled with today’s chemical arsenal.

Secondary Pest Problem

Even chemicals which are effective against pests often kill or interfere with beneficial insects and other organisms. The situation created then allows an insect (not the usual pest, but another insect taking advantage of the available food) to rapidly increase in number since no predators are in the field to prevent the population explosion. Sometimes the resulting (long-term and economic) damage is greater by the secondary pest than by the pest originally targeted. (more…)

Ladybugs for Garden Pests

Ladybug and LeafLadybug, ladybug, fly away home, Your house is on fire, your children all gone.

Most of us know that classic rhyme from childhood, but adults, particularly gardeners, have a new-found appreciation of the humble ladybug. That’s because certain species, including the most common one – Hippodamia convergens – prey on pests. There’s at least one Internet website that refers to ladybugs as the “Tyrannosaurus Rex” of the Insect World because of its predator tendencies.

Like many insects or animals, ladybugs, while useful, are misnamed. It isn’t a bug, but a beetle. Beetle lore has it that the ladybird beetle – as it’s known in Europe – was named after the Virgin Mary in the Middle Ages. Today they are native to almost all parts of North America with approximately 400 different species with 98 of them residing in Florida along with retirees and other lovers of sunshine. Worldwide, entomologists have identified some 4,500 species. (more…)

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 GardenHow to keep Bambi away with barriers and 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…)

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