Gardening with Laurie: Don't kill the bad guys, the good guys need them

By Laurie Garretson
April 10, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 9, 2014 at 11:10 p.m.

Just like housework, there is always work to be done in our gardens. Having a few helpers in the garden is always nice. Unfortunately, the garden helpers I'm talking about are eradicated as soon as they are noticed. The garden helpers I'm referring to are all the wonderful, beneficial insects.

Organic gardeners try to work with nature and realize that all insects, good or bad, are an indication of something. They are aware that nature can take care of itself if left alone. But often, we feel we need to step in and take control of things. Nature takes things slow and easy, but we want fast and easy results.

Insects in our gardens are largely controlled and kept in check with weather conditions, other insects and diseases. When, or if, these factors break down is when gardeners may need to offer some form of help to keep nature balanced.

There are many reasons humans love to garden. Many organic gardeners just love the process of working with the cycles of nature.

Insects are an intricate part of gardening, but there are many people who don't care to see insects of any type in their gardens. They feel the only good bug is a dead bug. They are unaware that the majority of insects are actually not pests. Bad insects are in the minority.

As caretakers of our landscapes, we need to keep in mind that all of nature is related. What affects one thing will certainly affect others. Pests in your gardens are a sign of some type of problem: too much shade, too much or too little moisture, lack of nutrients, bad soil, etc.

Left alone, nature can and will correct problems. First, the problem will need to be corrected to keep the situation in check. Otherwise, it's like trying to fill your watering can with water and not noticing the big hole at the bottom of it.

Reaching for a spray can and killing every insect in sight will definitely start a snowball effect that you will not want. With time and patience, beneficial insects appear wherever there is a pest infestation. Think of them as nature's cleanup crew.

Without bad pests, beneficial insects will not have as much interest in your garden. Seeing a few pests is a good thing. Ladybugs will want to lay eggs where there are tasty aphids for her babies to eat, not in a sterile garden. Don't try to sterilize nature. Nature is not a monoculture; it is a multifaceted creation meant to stay in harmony.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wild flowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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