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Using Predators To Protect Your Garden From Pests

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It is no secret that monocultures provide a good base for pests to advance from minor nuisance to full blown disasters. As a result chemical insecticides have become increasingly popular to a point where some farmers see them as a basic necessity. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Farmers can learn from balanced ecosystems like forests where pests are kept down by natural predators. Permaculture relies on the principles of a resilient and balanced ecosystem to protect crops from pests.

As the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend; there are great benefits to be reaped if you find out what can be done to attract natural predators of the very pests that are plaguing your crops. The main problem with using chemical insecticides is that they often result in the death of both pests and their predators. Using them is only a temporary solution though.

For instance, if you use slug pellets, they will kill slugs and hedgehogs. But since slugs have a shorter lifecycle compared to hedgehogs, they will be back soon and they will thrive in your garden because you killed the only thing that could threaten their existence. Using hedgehogs to your benefit, on the other hand, has long term benefits. In addition to slugs, hedgehogs also feed on snails and other insects. Encouraging hedgehogs will require you to use a wooden box that will serve as the shelter with an opening of no more than 13cm. Bury it at a strategic location in your permaculture garden and cover it with twigs and soil, and don’t treat the box.

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Codling and leek moths can be effectively controlled with bats. These birds are attracted to gardens with night-scented flowers, hedges and water features. Use a bat box to encourage them and place the box in a high, sheltered and sunny spot.

Newts, toads and frogs feed on slugs and while you may require a water feature to attract them, a stick pile or a small rock is all you need sometimes, especially in humid areas.

ddog107_1cc.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.960Insectary plants, otherwise known as welcome mat plants, are a great way to attract beneficial insects to your garden. Insects like lacewings, hoverflies and ladybirds feed on pests like aphids and red spider mites. Good examples of welcome mats include parsley, fennel, dill and angelica. It’s important to ensure that beneficial insects have access to nectar throughout the year and this requires that you use insectary plants that flower at different times of the year. To find out more about you can control pests naturally and promote plant growth in your garden, enroll at Open Permaculture School and also visit Regenerative Leadership Institute site.

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