Last year my husband came home panicking about the ?bugs? all over our plum tree. We only have room for one fruit tree, so any chance that we may not get to eat all those amazing Italian prune plums is reason to panic. But I was aware of these ?bugs? (aphids) and I had actually been allowing them to multiply in my very own little aphid nursery. Why on earth would I ever WANT aphids, the tiny soft-bodied flies that suck all the precious juices from your plants? Well, because they attract beneficial insects to the garden. I was growing food for the good bugs!
Setting up an area of your garden or a plant placed somewhere strategically where pests are allowed will help to attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, spiders, hoverflies and parasitic wasps to find their way to your garden. I plant a few shasta daisies (for black aphids) and lupines (for green aphids) around the garden as ground nurseries because aphids love them. A colony of the little monsters will cover those flowers and in no time the whole garden is being trolled by aphid hunters. This is particularly helpful near my lettuce garden, as the parasitic wasps and hoverflies zip in and between the lettuce leaves, effectively cleaning my greens before I even pick them.
The aphids on my plum tree, however, don?t even get a chance to touch a leaf of plum because once the ladybug eggs hatch it?s covered with alligator-like larvae that can eat hundreds of aphids a day.
By the time they pupate and become the beetles we are all familiar with, they have spit shined my plum tree without a sign of a pest. And, of course, my plum would never even set fruit if it wasn?t for pollinators so I make sure there are lots of flowers for the bees as well.
Beneficial Insects (you want) in the Garden
- Ground beetles
- Minute pirate bugs
- Big-eyed bugs
- Assassin bugs
- Damsel bugs
- Mealybug destroyers
- Soldier beetles
- Praying mantis
- Aphid midges
- Parasitic wasps
- Tachinid flies
- Syrphid flies (hoverflies)
Plan Your Garden to Have 3 Things for Beneficial Insects
1. Nectar provides beneficial insects with sugar. A few great sources are carrots, fennel, and Alyssum. Plant them and let them bloom.
2. Pollen provides protein for the good guys. Plant pollen-rich Asteraceae family of plants (asters, daisies) and Echinacea.
3. Trap plants like nasturtiums, lupines, and shasta daisies will attract insects that the beneficials feed on. Can you see what the ladybug in this photo is hunting?
The lesson here in organic gardening is to do what you can to help nature take care of the problem. Plant flowers for pollinators, start an aphid nursery, and give beneficial insects a few extra weeks to arrive before you attack pests on your plants. If it becomes a fight and you are not winning, then perhaps it?s time to considering making a change to what and where you plant. Gardening should be about nurturing, not napalm.
More on Natural Pest Management
This homemade herbal dog shampoo not only leaves your puppy with a herb-fresh scent, but those herbs also work to deter fleas. The recipe comes to us from the herb garden, making it powerful yet gentle on your furry friend?s skin.
I?ve had dogs now for more grass trimmer_2468 than 20 years and they are wholeheartedly part of the family. I feed our pets a raw diet that is closest to what they would get in the wild, and allow them to build up the natural oils in their fur which helps to protect skin and keep them feeling good. But I also make because, well, my dogs don?t live in the wild.
And that?s a big BUT. Living with pets indoors can mean that they can sometimes get a bit stinky and bring in critters from the outdoors that I don?t want to adopt as pets.
I remember living with a roommate who had a cat who loved to sit in the bathtub and drink out of the faucet. One day the cat jumped out of the tub and there was a tiny bit of blood left behind. I hurried to my roomie to report that their dear sweet animal was hurt, when she calmly responded, ?oh, that?s just the fleas.?
While I?m all for all-natural, I really, REALLY, don?t want fleas in the house. I don?t love the idea of using flea medication monthly, so I made a flea deterrent shampoo for my pooch. This all-natural shampoo is a gentle baby wash Castille base mixed with a herbal tea blend. Even though I lived in a neighbourhood (and house!) that had fleas, none of my dogs (past or present) have gotten them. Hooray for herbs!
Essential Oils and Pets
I used to add a few drops of essential oils to this recipe, but the more I studied essential oils and pets, the more I feel it?s not necessary. I?m updating this recipe today to remove the essential oils, as I have stopped adding any in the last few years. The herbal infusion works wonderfully as it is and it doesn?t overwhelm my pup?s sensitive nose.
You can add a few essential oils as well if dog isn?t sensitive to them. Meatball, my tiny Boston Terrier, did not have a reaction to the essential oils and did not mind the smell. He enjoys bath time (and especially the towel dry afterwards!). That being said, essential oils are powerful and so are dog?s sense of smell. So a little, just a drop or two, goes a long way and just a drop may still may cause a reaction in your dog. It?s best to research which essential oils are safe for pets and which are not (I wrote a bit more about that in ). There are a ton of lists out there to go from, but the only oils that I personally feel comfortable with are lavender, rosemary, and peppermint. But again, in such a high dilution that it isn?t overpowering the pup.
Homemade Herbal Flea-Repelling Dog Shampoo
Herbs from the garden are infused into the shampoo to give a gentle topical skin treatment. Peppermint is for pain relief, rosemary is an antibacterial addition, lavender is for calming, and calendula is skin-repairing. These scents are infused into the water that you will use to dilute a gentle castile soap.
Makes 1 cup
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh or dried peppermint leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh or dried rosemary leaves
- 1 tbsp calendula flowers
- 1 tbsp dried lavender buds
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup
Make a herbal tea by soaking the chopped rosemary, peppermint, lavender buds, and calendula flowers in boiling water. Steep until cool, then strain through a coffee filter set in a fine-mesh strainer.
Add the cool herbal infusion, oil, and the castile soap into a bottle and shake to combine. Give the shampoo a good shake and use within 3 months.
Use shampoo monthly during flea season to deter fleas. Work shampoo into wet fur into a lather and give puppy a good scrub. Rinse well and towel dry pooch.
If your pampered pooch does get fleas, then follow the shampoo with an apple cider rinse. Apply apple cider vinegar liberally all over the fur and skin and massage in. Rinse well with warm water and repeat if needed.