Tag: organic insect control

Harboring Insects and Diseases

Harboring Insects and Diseases

In managing gardens in different locations there are lessons learned about composting and the importance of crop rotation. The advice is to consistently turn compost piles to prevent grub populations, clean up and dispose of infested plants, and practice crop rotation to limit disease. Mild winters allow certain crops, like greens, to grow longer, but also enable disease to stay around and fruit trees to bloom prematurely, potentially causing a lost crop.

Fabric Row Covers: Keeping Bugs Out!

Fabric Row Covers: Keeping Bugs Out!

Lightweight row covers offer several advantages for protecting your crops. The biggest benefit is their effectiveness in controlling insect infestations. By placing the row cover immediately after planting, whether in spring, summer, or fall, you can prevent pests from damaging your crops. Additionally, the extra warmth provided by the fabric promotes faster vegetable development in spring and extends the growing season in the fall. This method is highly effective in controlling insects without the use of any chemicals.

Companion Planting

Companion Planting

Traditional research is mostly focused on chemicals, growth hormones, GMO’s, and an array of company-funded projects but not on companion planting. Few researchers are venturing out and doing innovative work that benefits the small individual gardener or small organic farm. But times are changing, and there are organizations that are looking at alternative methods of growing on both a smaller scales and larger scales. 

What I write here is up for debate and open to disagreement or fresh perspective. I have tried some things that have worked for me. Others have tried and reported it did not do well for them. Therefore, I recommend you make notes of those that work for you and continue that particular practice.

What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is gardening based on how certain plants behave with other plants either for the better or worse. These are usually a mix of flowers and vegetables. There are various factors at play and I describe each so that you may choose to do some to help ward off those pests.

Chemical pest control or suppression

Some plants help with insect and disease control through chemicals they emit via their root systems or through their leaves. Marigold is the most popular and is known to repel nematodes. Black walnut is a popular tree that emits allelochemicals, where the tree does not allow any type of plant to grow within a certain perimeter of its trunk. Then there are the pine needles with terpenes that prevent seed germination, though they are great as mulch in established beds like asparagus.

Trap crops 

Trap crops are plantings that attract insects that aren’t beneficial to the plants and become their hosts, in turn, it keeps the insects away from the vegetable plants.

Beneficial attractions

Beneficial attractions occurs when the plants attract beneficial insects that, in turn, will attack the bad insects and keep populations down or in check.

Physical complementary interactions

There are other types of benefits, such as the maximizing of space. In the case of a root crop next to an above ground plant. A tall plant that helps shade another plant that thrives when partially shaded during the heat of the day. This type of complementary use of space allows a greater production and diversity of use. Even if one crop gets attacked and production fails, there are others left behind, leaving you with plenty of food from that given space in your garden.

Symbiotic relationships

These occur when complementary plantings actually increase productivity. Most commonly is the use of legumes, such as peas or clover, that fix nitrogen in their roots by way of a symbiotic relationship with special bacteria (see blog on soybeans for more information Growing soybeans) and, in turn, this nitrogen is then utilized by the neighboring plants, as in the case of beans and corn.  

How to Implement Companion Planting  

When planting, if two plants are not complementary, that doesn’t mean you have to choose between them. Not at all! Rather, you would not plant them next to each other in the same bed. Therefore, the plant list below is a guide that should be used. I recommend taking notes when you use it. I know that my tomatoes have done very well when I planted next to the basil and not too far away from the parsley. Which one was responsible for my high production? Hard to say, as I had no real test for comparative analysis. 

For a complete list and to further your reading get my paperback copy:  ‘Garden the Organic Way’ and become an expert gardener. Garden the Organic Way is a comprehensive guide to organic gardening, designed for all skill levels. The book provides methods for growing delicious, pesticide-free vegetables using sustainable practices. https://gardentheorganicway.etsy.com

A partial list of companion planting for organic growers

Plant Name

companion(s) NAme




Basil, parsley, tomatoes




Beans, cabbage, pepper, tomatoes




Beets, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower



Bush beans

Celery, corn (also pole beans), potatoes, summer savory, sunflower, strawberry, tomatoes 


Chives, onion, garlic, fennel, leek


Basil, bush beans, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, onion, tomatoes, sage


Pole beans, mustard


Amaranth, beans, cucumber, melons, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, sunflower


Celery, tomatoes


All plants, plant sporadically

Keeps nematodes in control; discourages insects



Almost all vegetable, squash

Adds nitrogen to the soil, squash follows the peas up the trellis

Garlic, leek, onion, potatoes, shallots, gladiolus


Asparagus, basil, bee balm, carrot, celery, chives, cucumbers, garlic, lemon balm, lima beans, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onions, parsley


Cabbage family, fennel, potatoes

Lady Beetles (Mexican Bean Beetles or Colorado Potato Beetles)

Lady Beetles (Mexican Bean Beetles or Colorado Potato Beetles)

Lady beetles, with about 450 species in the US, are commonly known for their beneficial role in controlling aphids, scales, mites, and other pests. They vary in color and size, ranging from orange, yellow, pink, tan, and white, with black spots, to entirely black, brown, or grey. In contrast, the Mexican bean beetle, resembling ladybugs, is a pale-yellow to copper-brown pest with 16 black spots on its wing covers. It exclusively feeds on bean leaves and pods. The Colorado potato beetle, another look-alike, has ten alternating stripped bands of black and light yellow to tan on its wing covers and is a vegetarian that feeds on potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. The larvae of these insects also have distinct characteristics, with ladybug larvae being black with red, orange, or black stripes or markings, while Mexican bean beetle larvae are bright yellow with short spikes protruding throughout their body, and Colorado potato beetle larvae are salmon-pink with black spots along the side. The eggs of these insects are similar in shape and color, ranging from yellow to orange. Lady beetles lay eggs wherever there is food for the young larva to feed on, while Mexican bean beetles lay their eggs on the plant they are feeding on, and Colorado potato beetles lay their eggs in mass or small clusters on the underside of the leaves. Lady beetles are valuable allies in organic gardening and can be encouraged to stay by providing them with flowers that offer nectar and pollen. Conversely, Mexican bean beetles and Colorado potato beetles are pests that can be controlled through various methods such as handpicking and crop rotation.

Beneficial Insects and Their Habitat

Beneficial Insects and Their Habitat

It’s important to develop the right environment for the beneficial insects to establish proper habitats. Avoid using chemicals as bees and other beneficial insects are extremely sensitive to any type of chemical including the “natural” ones that are available to control grubs, etc. Black ground beetles and praying mantis are discussed in detail. From their appearance to their eating habits, predators, and their habitats.

Biocontrol Agent – A Wasp Attack

Biocontrol Agent – A Wasp Attack

The video shows a biocontrol control agent – a wasp attack on a grub . There are many ways we can control insects and grubs but, if the conditions are right, nature has a way to balancing everything out. These wasp are biocontrol agents. They are very tough and need to be left alone when encountered. As a garden ages the balance or predators looking for insects, grubs, or larva increases. Provided no chemicals of any type, are used. Natural predators give us a free service and it should be highly welcomed. Biological agents can be wasp, ants, praying mantis, birds or snakes. Just to name a few. Here is a blog of another beneficial, and unusual insect the wheel bug.

Blue-winged wasp

Biological control agent – a wasp attack by the blue-winged wasp.

The video link above shows the biocontrol agent – a wasp attack on a grub from the family Scarabaeidae, which has thousands of species of beetles, among them the Japanese beetle. A female blue-winged wasp from the family Scoliidae laying her eggs inside the  scarab beetle larvae that lives in the soil. The female wasp is “stinging” the grub and paralyzing it before laying the egg inside. Once the egg hatches, the larva of the wasp will feed on the scarab grub for about two weeks. After this occurs, the wasp larva will spin a cocoon inside the soil and live through the winter.


These blue-wing wasps are quite large and have different colors. Their bodies can be yellow, like the one in the video, but you can see them in white, red or a combination of these with black. The wings are large and cover the whole body. These, in particular, had a metallic blue shade. I was fascinated by their beauty.

The grubs from the scarab family are pale yellow or white and can go deep down into the soil. They are found as deep as 24” but usually around the 10” to 18” level. They are unusually large, ranging in size from 2” to 3” long and 1” thick. Read about other beneficial insects and their habitat.

As I arrived at the scene of the wasp attack, the blue-winged wasp had the grub at the surface of the garden bed and the fight was on. The wasp had retrieved the grub larva of the scarab from its tunnel in the soil. The wasp attack was well on its way, and was in control. I was sure glad it wasn’t any part of my body. Get my paperback copy: ‘Garden the Organic Way’ and become an expert gardener. Garden the Organic Way is a comprehensive guide to organic gardening, designed for all skill levels. The book provides methods for growing delicious, pesticide-free vegetables using sustainable practices. https://gardentheorganicway.etsy.com

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