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Don Trotter

Hello fellow Earthlings and welcome to our third installment on cool season vegetable gardens. Last time we discussed varieties of plants that you can add to a cool season vegetable plot and in the article before we talked about soil preparation and fertilization. This third discussion will be on keeping those precious veggies free of pests and disease with natural/organic solutions. So let's take a walk in the garden...

Most vegetable plants are fast growing with an abundance of tasty leaves, flowers that are rich in pollen and nectar, and soft fruits that are easily attacked by many different insect pests. Because these plants are so hardy and produce so much food insect infestations can often get out of hand before they are even noticed by the gardener. This is the primary reason that the manufacturers of dangerous chemical pesticides sell so much toxic material to the public each year. Chemical makers are very clever people , they make their products easy to use so that poisoning your environment is a very simple thing to do. A word of warning from this garden enthusiast is that once you begin using "Rescue Chemistry" to control pest populations in the garden you actually compound the problem. After spraying poison on your food, you not only create toxic food but you also create an environment where the target pest can mutate and become resistant to further sprayings. You are then forced to use a more toxic substance to eliminate a pest population that is slowly becoming a super bug population.

I have a way to keep insect pest populations at a controlled level without ever using any harmful substances in your prized veggie plot. My way also requires that you do less work. How's that for fair?

When planting your vegetable garden always leave a little room for a couple of "Companion Plantings". Companion planting is a practice by which you include plant types that draw or lure beneficial insects into your vegetable garden. Companion plantings can also include plants that are repellent to pest insects and therefore make your vegetable plot an inhospitable environment for them to live in. A companion plant can also be something useful for culinary purposes or just a way to add pretty flowers into the vegetable garden making it an aesthetically pleasing as well as tasty place to garden. The following list of just a few types of plants that you can include into your garden to lure beneficial insects is provided for your information. A more detailed list may be obtained by sending me an e-mail request forthe list. I am always happy to respond to your gardening questions. Well here's the list;

1. Sweet Alyssum, this plant is very attractive when in bloom and provides a good nectar source for many adult beneficial insect species. 2. Clover, it's always a good idea to include clover in the vegetable garden at any time of year. The flowers are a rich source of pollen and nectar and you can use the nitrogen these plants provide the soil with. 3. Dill, this is one of the best plants for luring beneficial insects into the garden. Dill flowers are very high in nectar and it is also one of the most useful of seasonings for cooking. 4.Mint, any member of this family of plants is very useful in drawing good guys into the garden. Use your imagination and plant a couple of varieties so that you have some interesting flavored leaves to add to beverages and food.

This brief list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to useful plants to include into the vegetable garden for pest control. I love to have beneficial insects working in the garden, because that means I can have more time to do other things in the garden than fight off bad guys all of the time. You will also be grateful to have these good guys working to keep your pest populations in check. Pest insects cannot develop a resistance to something that eats them, so you and your environment are the winners with more nutritious food and a cleaner and healthier habitat for future garden projects.

Next time we will be discussing how to treat your cool season vegetable garden as it is growing with some special ideas for parents that would like to get children involved in gardening. See you in the Garden!

Got questions? Fax the Doc at 760.632.8175 or Email him: email

Don Trotter's natural gardening columns appear nationally in environmentally sensitive publications.

Look for Don's book Natural Gardening A-Z from Hay House at bookstores everywhere and at all online booksellers and check out Don's columns in Hearst's Healthy Living Magazine coming soon.

Enjoy some of Dr. Curly's past gardening articles from our growers archive.

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