Monday, May 18, 2009

Garden Tips: Good Bugs & Helpful Plants

It is always a great pleasure-and surprise-when you happen on just the perfect place in which to plant some special treasure.~Margery Fish

The topic of beneficial plants and insects in our garden is one that is VERY in-depth, but I wanted to share just a few basics today. There are good bugs and wildlife that we really do want to attract to our gardens, even if they may give us the "willies" . A few main good bugs are: hover flies (syrphids), parasitic wasps, ladybugs (lady beetles), lacewings, some flies and our friend the spider. So, how to we encourage these bugs?

Well, for starters, teach your kids and grandkids to observe the bugs, but don't touch. Spider webs are homes, and we should admire them but not mess them up. Second, we can plant herbs and other plants that these bugs prefer.

Some are:

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare): this one is a favorite of many good bugs. It's a big plant so give it room! Don't plant it in moist areas where it may mold. It's easy to grow and it's a good pest deterrent when dried or used in a spray.

White Sensation cosmos (cosmos bipinnatus): This one is also a great plant, for attracting those good bugs and because it's an easy to grow annual. Direct seed where you want it to grow and enjoy. It's grows 4-5 foot tall and makes a good back of the border plant.

Lemon Gem marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia): also known as Signet marigolds. These have an added plus of being lemon scented. They grow to 10-12 inches tall in mounds. Great for containers, window boxes and small enough to plant in front of your vegetable rows! These are easy to grow as well by direct seeding.

Herbs: Caraway (carum carvi), Dill (anethum graveolens) and fennel (foeniculum vulgare). All three of these are not only great herbs for cooking, but can be planted through out your garden to attract good bugs as well. Do plant them away from each other however. Start indoors or direct seed. We also have features on all three of these in the garden section.

Your garden is a world all it's own. There is activity that we don't see, and some we do. There is much we can't control, but we can work with the information we have to try and work things to our advantage and hope for a great harvest. Gardeners never stop learning and should always be open to new ideas!

Grow cheerful zinnias by direct seeding!


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