Pest Control – Organic or “Chemical”

We have been reminded very powerfully in the past two weeks about the importance of pest control in the garden.

We work daily with families who depend on their gardens to keep them alive during the coming long winter months, and anything that threatens their crops’ viability has their full attention immediately.

Most of the time when we create a new demonstration/teaching garden the land has not been used recently, and is often bare and “unusable”, with even weeds having a hard time growing. Therefore we expected a similar situation with our Getk garden, since no gardening had been done for many years.

The difference is that this land has been covered with very healthy weeds for decades, and as it turns out, the insect pest populations are also very large. So as we have transplanted seedlings from the protected greenhouse into the hostile garden environment we have seen the effects of insect depredations almost immediately.

Armenia has a large insect that lives underground and surfaces at night that they call Boy-Boy. They are between 1 1/2″ and 2 1/2″ long, and are the ugliest thing I’ve seen this side of Madagascar, where they are plagued with something very similar. These can cut the stems of several healthy transplants in one night, and they are hated by everyone.

Ants are also everywhere, and we have numerous colonies – in the greenhouse as well as the garden – with at least three different sizes represented.

Cut worms are another serious problem for us here. They have lived fat and easy in the perennial grass with which much of the garden was covered, and they love young vegetable seedlings even more than their traditional diet.

The fourth serious pest we’re dealing with at the moment is soil maggots. These are tiny white worms that live on the underground stalks of our plants, and in most cases do not kill them outright, but weaken them so they don’t grow normally, and in the case of our broccoli caused the plants to produce small heads prematurely.

For those who read this and believe using anything other than organic solutions is dangerous and/or wicked, I recommend you live in the shoes of people in the developing countries of the world, where their garden produce is literally a matter of life and death. We, along with our students and 200 village participants, are very grateful for a single excellent chemical pesticide that eliminates all four of the above pests quickly and effectively at little cost.

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