asassian bugMany folks are attempting to reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals in their gardens. Decoy planting is an excellent method in which to do this.

I wrote an article some time ago on integrated pest management, a procedure that uses less-harmful methods of pest control, as well as disease control before proceeding to more drastic measures. Decoy planting is one method which should be attempted before thinking about chemical applications.

Decoy plantings not only repel pests but in many cases they will attract beneficial insects to your garden.

The first step is to determine which critters you are battling with. Capture some, and place in a small bottle of alcohol. If you can’t determine what you have, take a sample to your county extension office. They can help you to identify your pests.

Next, take a good look at the environment in your garden as well as the procedures you are using. Many insects prefer cool, damp locations to make their homes. If you have a thick layer of mulch around your plants, thin it out a little. Do any watering early in the day, this will allow the foliage as well as the top layer of soil to dry a little before night.

hornwormI think most of us have either seen or heard about marigolds repelling insects. This is one example of decoy planting and it also it adds an attractive touch to a vegetable garden.

If you have aphid or whitefly issues, try planting some nasturtiums around your infested plants, By the way, the flowers are edible and the seeds can be pickled to make "poor-man's capers."

If you find your eggplant, cabbage, or potato leaves looking like they have been hit by shotgun pellets, you have a flea beetle problem. Plant some radishes nearby; the flea beetles will leave the eggplant alone.

Alliums, a member of the onion family, are also effective in repelling aphids, cabbage loppers, worms, as well as rabbits.

You can also approach the pest problem in a different manner by planning to attract beneficial insects. This amounts to a “good bug, bad bug” scenario. You attract the good guys and they eat the bad guys.

lacewingLacewings are deadly on aphids. The adult lays eggs on plants where aphids are active. When the larvae hatch they devour the aphids. Dill, coriander, as well as fennel are excellent choices for attracting lacewings.

Ladybugs, who produce larvae that devours pests at an alarming rate. Dill, butterfly weed as well as hairy vetch are good choices to attract ladybugs.

Parasitic Mini-Wasp adult females lays their eggs in the targeted pest. The eggs hatch and it's goodbye to the bad guy. These wasps do not sting. Plants that attract these wasps include caraway, dill, lemon balm.

Tachinid Flies are the most effective way to control worms, cabbage, and cutworm. They are attracted to buckwheat, parsley and thyme.

Assassin bugs devour a wide range of pests such as ants, leaf hoppers and beetles. You can attract them with fennel, goldenrod as well as dill.

As you can see several plants attract more than one beneficial insect. Choose your plants carefully for a pest free garden. This is an excellent way to control insects without any chemicals whatsoever