Thursday, June 28, 2007

Halt! Put Down That Spray, Plant A Marigold

Marigolds standing sentry for my green bean plants in a raised bed.
There are certain plants that actually attract beneficial (or predatory) insects. Insects that'll eat and banish the bad buggers. This glorious food chain can be harnessed on a small scale in your own garden (container or veggie). Here's the low-down.

I'm keeping this experiment small, as it usually takes me a while to wrap my head around the more scientific-end of gardening. I am testing out three 'host plants' - marigolds, cosmos and zinnias - in my vegetable beds.

Who The Hosts Attract

Cosmos (usually the white ones) - hoverfly, parasitic wasp, lacewing
Marigolds - ladybug, hoverfly, parasitic wasp
Zinnias - hoverfly, parasitic wasp

Who The Predators Hunt

Ladybug - aphids, aphids, aphids!
Lacewing - aphids, spider mites, thrips, whiteflies, eggs of leafhoppers, moths, leafminers, smaller caterpillars, beetle larvae, long-tailed mealy bug
Hoverfly - aphids, mealy bugs, leafhoppers, thrips and scale larvae
Parasitic wasp - caterpillars and caterpillar eggs

You can usually snag a four pack of these annuals for around $1.25. While stinky, scary pesticides cost a pretty penny. So . . . not too shabby.

Let the battles begin.


Carrol said...

Good to know that SOMETHING will go after the mealy bugs and leafminers since I refuse to spray..and yet another excuse to go to the Nursery!!

Steph said...

My grandfather always had marigolds and zinneas planted in his vegetable garden.