Overview: The Good News: 100,000 insect species; only 200 pests. We do not need neonics or any toxic pesticide to grow plants well. The solution is human attention, biodiversity, nutrient-dense soils, application of nontoxic management, and tolerance.
The Bad News: Most people and most nurseries don’t know the good news. They believe the chemical companies that we need to fear and attack insects and fungi as enemies.
More Good News: The concern of ordinary citizens who call nurseries and businesses and ask them if they are using systemic neonic poisons in their plants, is having a powerful effect. These companies now know we care and will buy plants that are neonic-free if we can. This could get them to change.
The Particulars of Non-toxic Pest Management:
- Pest control is not realistic, Nature is too powerful and inventive. Man makes a new poison, insects will adapt, like super weeds & super bugs
- But we can accomplish pest management and balance. How? always leave 10%-20% of the pests to attract and feed beneficial insects.
- Think like Mother Nature: Expect predation: grow more than you need.
- Evaluate pest damage 3 days in a row. Is the damage minor or serious? If minor, let nature’s natural predators keep the balance. If major damage, try solutions that do not kill or weaken beneficial insects, bees and humans. Learn to recognize the beneficial insects at work.
- There are many earth-friendly solutions
- cultural-right plants, right place; right water; right timing
- nutritional-healthy soil = healthy plants= few pests
- environmental-growing diverse plants that support beneficials & birds
- mechanical-barriers, row cover,
- repellants & antifeedants-neem, garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, etc
- lethal, but non-poisonous: oils-suffocation, soaps-dessication, strong herbs-thyme, rosemary, garlic (spray on pest-no residual)
- Occasionally our solutions don’t work: like a plague of locusts or some new bad bug like Emerald Ash Borer. Then we can cry or eat or plant something else, but it’s not the end of the world. And far better than poisoning the planet for our children and killing bees.
- Neighborhood education: learning what works from each other.
Nature is a system that supports Life. If we want to align ourselves with Her Power; if we want to be on the long-term winning side, then we support life too. The age of warring against Life is over the hill. The Old Paradigm is Kill the Enemies, The 21st Century Paradigm is: Support Life, Learn from Life, Partner with Nature and each other. Sometimes we have to kill, but not with poisons.