Today gardening class begins, and we consider which plants to select for the garden. Aside from their fruit and flowers, plants are chosen for their attraction of beneficial insects -- those strange bugs that protect our garden. This Praying Mantis, for instance, has a bad reputation (from its menacing appearance) but is actually a gardener's friend because it “preys” on harmful insects that destroy crops. They're good for pest control and an organic garden without pesticides.
When we use plants that attract good bugs and discourage the bad, we enjoy the garden a lot more. We spray less pesticide that indiscriminately kills the beneficial bugs along with the bad. Common bugs we hope to attract include ladybugs, damsel bugs, dragonflies, spiders, lacewings, parasitic wasps, and bees -- and to lure them we'll select plants like alfalfa, morning glory, yarrow, dill, fennel, marigolds, coriander, penstemon, and dandelions.
On the other hand, our plant list might include varieties of onions, mint, chives, marigolds, coriander, sage, rosemary and nasturtiums. These plants discourage the bad bugs such as ants, aphids, thrips, cabbage loopers, beetles, leafhoppers, slugs, snails, and tomato worms.
In either case, it takes thoughtful planning to outsmart the potential insect invasion that will most certainly occur this spring after the crops are planted. There's more of those bad bugs than us, so it makes sense to encourage their natural predators to hang around. Certainly, a beautiful garden with healthy plants and those delicious veggies will be well worth it. Bug free!