Saturday, June 26, 2010

Garden Helper

Meet Charlie. He is one of many helpers in my garden. I found him this morning when I went out to the garden. Prior to gardening, I couldn't stand bugs. Bugs would make me jump and were always associated with fear and (in most cases) annoyance. Now bugs hold a special place in my heart for the services they provide to my organic garden... well, now that I know a little more about them.

Spiders
I would never have considered myself an arachnophobe, but I had a definitive dislike for spiders only tinged with a slight fear. Now I know better. While you don't want an infestation of spiders, having a few on hand (not literally) actually keeps other bugs away. According to Dr. Linda S. Rayor, Assistant Professor of Entomology, Cornell University, spiders are considered to be the most important terrestrial predators, eating tons of pest insects or other small arthropods every year. And those webs, that have always creeped me out, are actually my gardens best defense against unwanted pests. Those webs are LITERALLY large bug traps that I didn't have to pay for, set or clean since the web is actually an extension of the spider's sensory system. What does that mean? A bug hits a web and the spider IMMEDIATELY knows that dinner is served and gets to work "preparing" it's meal. Spider webs are GOLD for ANY garden. And since spiders are predators only, they will not harm any of your growing crops. If you are gardening organically.... LEARN to love spiders. I did (well except for the black widow and brown recluse that we have here in AZ.... YUCK).

Ladybugs
Unlike spiders, I did not have to learn to love ladybugs. I've always loved ladybugs! They are one of the most adorable of bugs and another helper for an organic garden. Ladybugs, like spiders, are predators; and these predators eat ALL DAY on unwanted insects never harming your harvest. Even when they are in larvae form, they are eating the bad bugs in your garden!
Because they are the least feared of the insect world, they are also the most popular insect to use in gardens and can be found for purchase VERY easily. Be sure that you release them in your garden when it is dark and after an evening water.

Dragonflies
I only occasionally see dragonflies in my garden and recently learned that they are beneficial for ridding a garden of mosquitoes. My next garden WILL be a netted greenhouse where I will have a couple of dragonflies in residence. But for now, that's all I've got on dragonflies.

Lizards and Frogs
Obviously not bugs, but very welcomed helpers in my garden. Frogs have JUST RECENTLY shown up in my garden. I honestly don't know where they came from, but am so thrilled they are there. And the lizards? Being that I live in Arizona, lizards are EVERYWHERE. Both are also predators and do not harm your organic garden eating many of the flying insects that will feed off your crops and then make their airborne get away.

I'm quickly learning how cooperative gardening really works for not only the plants that I'm growing, but also in making a happy home for my garden helpers.

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