Any success stories of using ZERO pesticides or herbicides?

takadi(7)July 15, 2009

I'm curious whether an actual garden can survive using zero chemicals and simply the fingers on your hands. I'm thinking through companion planting, spacing, and some hard work, it could work. Also the garden will form it's own little ecosystem and food web where certain pests and weeds get naturally controlled or outcompeted. Is it feasible or is it simply calling for garden hell?

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ericwi

We grow blueberries with zero pesticide and zero herbicide. Also raspberries, however, I am out there every day with a cup of warm water/soap solution, trying to capture and kill japanese beetles.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 12:28AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

If anyone were to really be one using no pesticides or herbicides that probably would be me and on occassion I still find that I do need to use them. Organic gardeners that claim that never use chemicals do not understand that many of the products they might use, Insecticidal Soap for example, are chemicals. Neem products, extracts from a tree, are chemicals (and might even be considered synthetic chemicals) as are many other things organic gardeners use regularly.
That ericwi uses a bucket of soapy water to capture Japanese Beetles means he is out there with a pesticde since a pesticide is something that kills insects and that soapy water kills those buggers.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 7:09AM
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anney(Georgia 8)

I was able to back-yard garden in suburban New Jersey for several years without using pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides. I used the Ruth Stout hay-method of mulching deeply. That enriched the sandy soil so much that eventually when the mulch had all broken down, the grass that grew there was noticeably greener and healthier compared to the rest of the lawn.

There were no other gardeners in my neighborhood, so I assume that's why the pest and disease populations were so low. Also, the winters were bitterly cold, and that tended to dispatch any insect pests that might have wintered over. There were no invasive plants that needed herbicides.

The only pest I remember was the parsley worm, and I was so intrigued with the coloring that I brought it inside with some parsley leaves. It made a cocoon and eventually a gorgeous Black Swallowtail butterfly emerged. I did not begrudge its feasting on my parsley!

Here in Georgia where everything is much more lush for longer periods of time, it's quite a different story. Garden pests and diseases just seem to be part of a garden's life processes, even though the soil is very rich in nutrients and grows most things very well. There are just more insects in non-urban areas!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 9:13AM
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gardengal48

It's certainly possible. I gardened for years in the Puget Sound area using NO pesticides. My garden was a certified backyard wildlife habitat, which pretty much requires the use of no pesticides. I even stopped using slug baits (like Sluggo) simply because the need was not pressing enough to warrant it. I did very little edible gardening - mostly ornamentals - but I did grow herbs, tomatoes in containers and had berries and fruit trees and still required no pesticides to achieve a successful harvest.

I attribute this to many years spent improving the soil, mulching regularly and hand controlling weeds, biodiversity - I grew a LOT of different plants on my little patch - and very healthy populations of beneficials, including birds. And a certain amount of tolerance for some munched on foliage :-) IME, the less pesticides you use, the fewer pesticides you will need to use.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 10:47AM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

My garden is doing extremely well, the only thing I'm using is a bucket w/ water and natural dish soap. I knock the Japanese beatles into it. This morning I noticed a ton of house flies had commited suicide in the bucket I leave by the garden. I guess the JB's smelled as good as the lure in the fly traps. It's also had many grass hoppers land in it. Only a few wasps which is unfortunate, but I'm not going to keep emptying the bucket to save a few wasps, especially now that it's getting house flies.

I've also got a lot of frogs, and several have taken up residence on top of my compost pile. They sit on top of the burlap that covers my pile and I try to make sure I give them time to move to the side before I add scraps.

I haven't seen cuke beatles yet this year. They devastated my cucurbits last year. But I also have much healthier plants this year thanks to raised beds and home made compost. I'll stick to picking them, I wasn't particularly good about removing the eggs last year. I will invest in some beneficial nematodes if they seem to be getting out of hand.

I do have alot of crickets, but they seem to stick to the lawn along the neighbors fence. Lots of happy frogs, so I'm not worried about the occasional cricket or grass hopper I see in the garden. I generally see them when I weed eat that fence.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 11:59AM
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ania_ca

My mother did it for the couple of years she had a garden.

I grow strawberries, blueberries, apricots, squash, zucchini, okra, swiss chard, cucumbers so far without any pesticides, herbacides or artificial fertilizers.

I grew tomatoes and peppers last year without as well with mixed results due to hornworms. I resorted to the use of BT on those plants this year as well as the eggplants.

Ania

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 12:01PM
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Dan Staley

I haven't done anything so far this year, even though most are complaining about aphids and such. I'm (still) waiting for flea beetles to show up which will change this situation. All I did last year was spray a soap concoction 2-3 times.

But I doubt the typical home gardener wants to take the time and energy needed to be this way. Just a thought.

Dan

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 12:34PM
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tcstoehr

All I use is Bt and I don't consider that a chemical. I cannot grow radishes due to root maggots. Oh wait... I use Sluggo, that's definitely a chemical.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 1:17PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

g'day takadi,

we use no applications whatsoever, not even homemade ones, we do the early morning safaris or cover things with net.

len

Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 3:07PM
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sunnybunny(Z8Northwest)

Yes it is possible to garden and even grow food without using pesticides and herbacides. I have to admit that when I committed to this way of gardening I started to see things in a different way and connect with nature in a different way so weeds had a different priority and actually seeing the ecosystem as you called it form became fascinating to me. Gardening this way makes me emotional because you start to feel the plants and insects and bugs in a different way. I am sure that other organic gardeners know what I mean.

Kimmser made a good point however that organic gardeners may use other things that have properties that kill, like insecticidal soap or neem oil. I think this is why people get confused because due to the marketing behind registered pesticides and herbacides vs the things that certified organic growers use and what is available to the home gardener gets murky.
I personally made a decision to garden without pesticides and herbacides after a poisoning I experienced in 1991, and a real stupid landscape mistake with Preen in 1994 which lead to some Japanese Maples dying. I gradually learned and phased out everything. I generally use sheet mulching to recover very weedy areas, and use compost and other soil amendments. I do have a problem at a rental house where this dratted horse tail grows through the cracks in the sidewalk in an area that is tough to reach and have tried everything from boiling water, to vinegar. I currently have a project yard where I am trying to use only mechanical means to deal with pests and soil amendments like compost. My apple trees I am putting socks on the apples instead of dormant oil. If you consider compost tea a chemical then I am using a chemical. I also use worm castings and get pretty amazing things happening. I have plants that seem like they went on steroids!

I think it is tough to garden in an area where soils are depleted and not used amendments of some kind like fish fertilizer and seaweed.

Permaculture is the new way of gardening. I am not versed in this but garden gal mentioned having a certified wildlife habitat and this is how I garden, I mix and match to attract beneficials and birds and grow edibles as landcape plants.

Takadi, are you looking for motivation or support? and ideas?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 5:43PM
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takadi(7)

I guess I should specify chemical as "man made or man processed chemical". I guess that includes soaps and neem oil

I'm just thinking of this rather as a hypothetical challenge, whether we really depend on chemical modifications that much that we are unable to grow satisfactory yields for our survival. I'm hoping by pondering on one extreme, I can transition from the previous extreme (using round up, sevin, hiking up the water bill sky high, tons of chemical fertilizers) and meet somewhere half way.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 3:01AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

From About.com
"Question: What Is a Chemical?

Answer: Short answer: Everything is a chemical. Longer answer: Chemistry is the study of matter and its interactions with other matter. Anything made of matter is therefore a chemical. Any liquid, solid, gas. Any pure substance; any mixture. Water is a chemical. Technically speaking, so is a chunk of your computer. A chemical can often be broken down into components, as is true with your computer. However, people generally use the term 'chemical' to refer to a substance that appears homogeneous or the same throughout its structure."
So those tht are "organic gardeners" because they do not use any chemicals are wrong and need to rethink what they do. Organic gardening is a positve process, not a negative one.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 7:22AM
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Michael

Sure you can, give it a try! My raspberries get nothing but compost and one application of urea. After 5 years, the Heritage berries are slowly getting wiped out by borers but the Lathams are doing just fine. Without the Urea the primocane growth isn't good enough for my greedy palate.

The strawberries get one light shot of urea and the leaves left over from the winter mulching. The insects take their toll but after 5 years I still find it acceptable.

All the veggies ever need is some Bt on the corn silks. If I don't spray Neem on the onions the leafminers will leave me with tiny little bulbs, I like those onions!

The peppers and tomatoes benefit greatly from keeping splashing water off the leaves through mulching out about 2 ft. from the base. This helps greatly to avoid soilborne bacteria from splashing onto the leaves that cause my most injurious form of blight.

As kimmsr points out ad nauseum, healthy soil. One way I help that is to rotate using cover crops. Many people constantly garden every square inch of ground every year. That is a mistake IMHO. I am greedy and want to do the same thing every year and have to force myself to lay fallow 1/3 of my ground every year with a cover crop on it. Everybody needs a break and your soil does too!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 6:00PM
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lazy_gardens

I'm not using herbicides in the garden area. It's thickly mulched with compost and shredded trees. Very few weeds, and they are hand-pulled. Drip irrigation lines under the mulch.

Pesticides ... just Amdro, and that's only because I got tired of fighting the native fire ants while picking tomatoes. It's ant-specific, and I covered the area with wire mesh to keep the quail out of it while the ants were picking it up.

Nothing else is damaging the vegetable plants enough to make me worried. Various birds are rummaging through everything looking for seeds and bugs all day long, or lounging in the shade of the veggies.

Fertilizer: liberal amounts of soil sulfur to free up iron and lower pH and a small amount of ammonium sulfate or phosphate. Next year I won't need it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden pics

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 7:01PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

This is my fourth year gardening at this house and I'm happy to say I've used nothing that would be considered outside organic standards. :-)

I've had some losses for sure especially seedlings planted outside. Dang slugs.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 12:53AM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

I've used none, but I've had to give up on some plants that probably could have survived if treated. I couldn't grow eggplants because of flea beetles until this year, when I draped them with row covers until mature size. Couldn't grow marigolds this year because it was a banner year for slugs. Lost a gooseberry bush to sawfly.

But I've had big harvests nonetheless, and generally would rather not grow a few things than use pesticides and herbicides, even organic ones. The only problems I've had with aphids, whitefly, and powdery mildew were from plants that were too closely spaced and not getting enough sun or air flow.

I do think that if you build the soil, make sure it's friable to a good depth and reasonably well-drained, and pay attention to spacing and light requirements, plants have pretty good defenses.

But I'm also willing to lose a year's worth of marigolds to slugs, or not grow squash for a couple of years if (heaven forbid) vine borers appear, as the price for focusing on a "pure" ecosystem.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 1:51AM
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takadi(7)

Aren't butternuts immune to vine borers?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 4:29AM
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pnbrown

The only thing I've ever used is bt and I havn't used that this year and don't intend to. Best season ever, due to the ample moisture. Great season, poor or middling, I think the best plan is just practice one's rotations and accept what comes.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 7:36AM
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lazy_gardens

Takadi -
Solid stemmed squash varieties are less susceptible to squash vine borers, not 100% immune.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 2:20PM
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boothc9

I have not used any pesticides or herbicides (organic or artificial) whatsoever. This is my first year gardening. I have an 8x16 organic plot in a community garden. Nothing has touched my plants except my hands, soil, and organic fertilizer, period.

I've successfully grown tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, sweet peppers, hot peppers, spinach, kale, mustard greens, radishes, beets, carrots, chard, cilantro, and basil. The only plants to be lacking are my bush beans (used too much fertilizer [poop from my rabbit]) and my eggplant (set it out too early). I've never even picked a bug off of my plants. I've only weeded by hand (mass weeding once every two weeks or so).

Before planting I did some research on companion planting. I came to a general consensus that a large variety of plants in a small area with several herbs is enough to deter many pests. I suppose I could just be very lucky but I like to think that's it's skill!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 2:03PM
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cindy_l

I grow fruit/veggies with no pesticides ...except for spraying stone fruit tree for leaf curl. I don't really have any major problems except for powdery mildew and aphids, both of which I combat with the hose.

It must depend on your planting zone, and perhaps luck ...fingers crossed - but I don't have many pests.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 2:26PM
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r_organicgarden

We don't use any chemicals at all. We did have a pill bug invasion early in planting season and managed to thwart them with some trickery we learned on this site and others. Yes! It's possible!

Here is a link that might be useful: OurOrganicUrbanGarden.blogspot.com

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 8:10PM
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brass_tacks(8b/GA)

The vine vegetables and eggplant are not in raised beds, but the tomatoes, beans, cabbage, parsley, basil, peppers, radish, marigolds, and onions were all in raised beds.

Everything planted in the raised beds were covered with row covers as soon as they got transplanted. I kept the row covers on until all the plants came out of the ground.

As long as the vegetables outside the raised gardens were kept coated with Kaolin clay (Surround WP) I had no kind of insect or other problems.

All of my citrus trees have been coated with the clay and I have to say, that as long as I kept the trees coated good enough, I didn't have leaf miners. Now I do see that there must be some leaf miners about -- but haven't noticed the trails much. I am very confident that it is the clay coating that made the difference. It's hard to keep the trees coated when it keeps raining and blowing.

The rains came and I let up on the spaying of the clay and the squash vine borer got into the squash. I pulled the squash.

Now I am preparing for the fall planting and will have to get some clear plastic before the frosts come.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 8:49AM
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gardencat10

It's not only possible to garden without pesticides or herbicides, it's the healthiest thing for garden, animals, and humans. I use raised beds and top dress the plants with my homemade compost, which I also use to start my seeds. I allow clover to grow in the rows between the beds, and I always have lots of dill and cilantro reseeding to act as beneficial insect attractors. I feed my plants with fish emulsion and fertilize with greensand & rock phosphate.

My chickens are allowed to groom the beds in the late fall and early spring. I use chopped-up fall leaves or meadow grass to mulch all the plants, which greatly cuts down on weeding. As for bugs, I always have a few tomato hornworms, and they are always covered with the rice-like larvae of their parasitic wasp, so they are allowed to live (but not on the tomato plants!). I cover the stems of my squash with pieces of old aluminum foil to deter the wasp that lays borer eggs. I have no Japanese or bean beetles anymore (knock on wood!), I squish potato beetles by hand (in glove) every time I pass by their bed, and the birds eat the aphids and cabbage butterflies right off the plants. Healthy, well-fed plants go a long way toward enabling you to garden without pesticides. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 5:14PM
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annpat(5-Maine)

I have never used a pesticide or an herbicide on my home gardens. I took up vegetable gardening in 1975 and have always used nourishing mulches, compost, manures, and organic methods. I really can't think of any plant that I had to give up on permanently. I did use Sluggo for the first time two years ago and last year. I'm foregoing it this year.
I have slug issues. This year I've been handpicking with a headlamp and a pair of rubber gloves. I've lost about three young brussels sprout seedlings. I suspect I'll lose more, at which time I'll abandon the idea and put carrots or beets in that row.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 8:20PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Does anyone have Canada Thistles in their garden? I mean a lot of them.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 11:00PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

I got below 250 Lbs & held my weight down for 4 years.
It has to be pulling weeds & Grasses, because I eat what I want.
Got BOTH of my children in the garden/orchard this weekend to help with the weeding & mulching.
Well, the Blue berries are starting to ripen, so that may have something to do with it.
I have not used P & H, other then organic folk recipes all the time I had my orchard/garden.
There were times I was temped to, but I held out.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 5:20PM
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crankyoldman(z5 NY)

"So those tht are "organic gardeners" because they do not use any chemicals are wrong and need to rethink what they do."

And there's no difference between calcium and plutonium or baking soda and dioxin because they're all chemicals, right? Bah humbug. When people are discussing organic gardening--and this is, after all, the Organic Gardening Forum--and they use the word "chemical," they are talking about synthetic pesticides and herbicides, because that is part of the definition of organic gardening: not using synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and ferts. Dropping Japanese beetles in a can of soapy water is not applying any chemicals (yes, I said "chemicals") whatsoever to one's garden and if the dish soap is actual soap instead of detergent, it's even organic.

Yes, it is possible to use zero pesticides and herbicides. I honestly can say I have not ever used an herbicide. I use a hoe for that. Pesticides I have used neem in the past on indoor plants that I could not use a stream of water to dislodge the aphids. Outside of that, I have used some Mole-Stop, which is a mixture of castor oil and soap, about five years ago. During a rough season about seven years ago I tried some synthetic pyrethrins on shield bugs that were eating my tomatoes. It had no effect and that was the first and last time I used a synthetic pesticide in over 25 years of gardening. It's possible and IME it's cheaper and easier not to use them.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 12:07PM
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piedmontnc(7b-8)

Garlic and milk sprays are about the extent of chemical application in my garden. Having a variety of plants, plus lots of herbs and other plants with tiny flowers keeps the beneficial insects around.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 8:02AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

In regards to fruit trees only. Sure you can do it, but your yield will be horrible, if not a total loss. Plus you'll become a breeding ground for even more damage in the future. Just look at the Plum Curculio. One female can lay 60 eggs. I've had a unsprayed plum tree that had 100% of fruit showing egg laying scars. If I didn't pick those up, I can't imagine the damage the following year.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 10:49AM
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pepper71

If you dont want to use chemicals for pest control you can use a small vacum cleaner,lol. Most the times the pest will be eaten up by other beneficials. If things get to far out of hand , throw a chicken in there for a little while or attract some birds. Garden snakes should take care of everything crawling and frogs will take care of everything crawling and flying low. I also have bats that do fly bys in the evening. Lately I have been keeping some pest at bay by "thumping" them off the garden plants. Dont panic to much at first sight of pest and try and let nature take its course.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 1:24PM
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GreeneGarden(5)

I have changed gardens a few times over the years. I have noticed that the first 3 years I have very few problems. After that, the insects and diseases start to build up. Most of the best methods for discouraging insects and diseases have been mentioned above: growing right crops at right time, building up soil minerals, high bio-activity in soil, never water from above (always drip from below), attract predators like bats, birds, snakes, frogs, ants, beneficial fungus, etc. Things not mentioned that I have had some success with are clean culture, crop rotation, and beneficial flowers. I agree with FrankTank about Plum Curculio. I am using more beneficial flowers with some success but it is a constant battle. Putting my squash on a trellis was also a tremendous help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Insect Control

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 8:38PM
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peter_6

takadi: I have been zero for 35 years, and I don't use organic substitutes for non-organic products. I rely on the system. As far as insects go, I have very few: flea beetles which I repel with row covers, Colorado beetles which I pick off, and black aphids on fava beans for which I remove the top of the plant once it matures. I used to have slug and cut-worm problems, but I think beneficials are taking care of those. Weeds are an altogether different matter: I have them in profusion and in great variety. I use natural mulches, but they always get ahead of me, so I pull them and suffer. I don't hoe, because vegetable roots shoul;d be undisturbed. Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 8:21PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

No chemicals here, except an incident with roundup once about 9 yrs. ago to start a bed too big for lasagna (50 x 30.) If I have to put chemicals on my plants, I wouldn't want to touch them or eat the fruits and veggies. Ewwww! Why not save a step and just eat the chemicals if you're going to use them. If I wanted artificially protected and enhanced produce, I would buy it at the grocery store. Also, it's impossible for the predator bugs to survive if you kill all of their food.

People have been growing food and flowers for thousands of years without chemicals. So much valuable knowledge about companion planting and natural methods has failed to transmit to the past few generations. It's very sad and SCARY!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 12:21PM
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homegardenpa

No chemicals or pesticides for years and as of the last two years, no tilling... and my garden gets better every year.

The only things I use sparingly (so sparingly that I haven't used any so far this year) is an organic fungicide and some BT for controlling caterpillars (also have not used this so far).

The only scary thing about using no pesticides and no herbicides is that things will always get worse before they get better. Basically, detrimental insects are the first to show up, they are opportunistic feeders and when presented with tender and delicious garden crops they will begin feasting. Their numbers will likely grow large assuming they have enough to eat and ideal conditions in other respects. Only once their numbers are fairly significant will the beneficial predatory insects begin to show up because their food (other insects) is now readily available.

For my garden, the first on the scene are aphids, then come the flea beetles... Their numbers grow large, my plants leaves begin to look like they're part of a shooting range with holes all over the place. Then the ladybugs show up, then the hoverflies, then green lacewings and I get treated to the site of a praying mantis every now and then. The aphids nearly disappear, the flea beetles reduce in number so as to become non-issue and sometimes they disappear completely.

Organic gardening without pesticides and herbicides is easy, once you figure out what works in your area - that's where the research and trial and error begin. The biggest thing I learned is that gardening without pesticides and herbicides means you need to plan things out and do things differently, generally at different times of year.

I was always taught (non-organic) to till and add fertilizer in the spring, give your plants some "blue water" once they’re a certain size, and some more at regular intervals for the rest of the season; When the bugs show-up, spray them. For weeds, I was always told to use block material or landscape fabric, it’ll keep weeds from coming through.

What I do now is no-till with mulching about 3-4 times a year using locally grown hay (preferably alfalfa hay - though it's more expensive and I generally go with a mix) maintaining a 4-6" deep layer for most of the year. The hay mulch smothers just about every weed, retains soil moisture, protects the soil life, and feeds the soil as it breaks down; It's great stuff. In the fall I top-dress my amendments: Compost made from kitchen scraps, some manure (free) from a local horse farm, chopped leaves and grass, and then hay over the top - It rots over the fall, winter, and early spring. Then (early spring) I add more hay and then I plant directly into it. By the time plants go into the soil, they have everything they need for pretty much the whole season. Mid-to-late season I'll pile on some more mulch to maintain about 4-6 inches in mulch thickness and keep the flow of food into the soil. No spraying for bugs involved in any of that.

It actually works out to also be a lot cheaper since I have no real need to buy any fertilizers and to mulch 400 sq ft. of garden costs 16 dollars.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 6:09PM
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tracydr(9b)

No chemicals here. I dusted my squash a couple of weeks ago with diamectaceous earth when I saw the juvenile squash bugs and one adult. Seemed to work. I have used BT when cutworms have been bad. My only real problem this year has been birds and pill worms. The birds I netted the tomatoes and the pill worms I just let the garden dry out. I may need to use sluggo next time I plant lettuce in the garden with pill worms, they were pretty bad.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 10:43AM
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chickenfreak(7)

It depends on your definition of success. I garden without pesticides and herbicides, but I only grow what I can grow without pesticides and herbicides. :) So if "success" means that you never have to give up on a favorite crop or plant, then I don't count as a data point.

I grow lots of roses, but none of them are hybrid teas. Until this year, I grew rasperries, but not strawberries, because the slugs got all the strawberries; now I have a new garden space and I'm trying strawberries again. Tat soi has been eaten down to stems in both garden locations; I'll try a few more times, then I'll likely give up. Pears grow perfectly here; I've read that it would be a major challenge to grow apples without any pesticides, so we abandoned our plans to plant a tree. And so on.

So far for the ornamentals, even fertiizers have been confined to mostly nutritious mulch and the like. At least this year, I'll be fertilizing the vegetable garden rather than sticking to manure and compost. But I'll try to make it organic fertilizer, and I'll try to get the soil built up so that after a few years I'll no longer have to regularly "dose" the plants with food.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 2:45AM
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Dwibren

I garden in West Texas and never use pesticides. This is not to say I have no pests, but they are not usually fatal to the vegetables. I would rather let a plant pass on to that great garden in the sky than use any pesticide. I just work to keep my soil as healthy as possible and it seems to be effective most of the time. If I have to use something, a little compost tea seems to help...probably by bumping up the health of the plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: In the Charamon Garden

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 7:01PM
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gnhelton

I can tell you that this winter we took the plunge and are trying exactly that. Zero pesticides, zero chemical fertilizers.

Now we're closing in the dog days of summer so the real test will begin but have to say so far so. Pretty good.

This may disqualify me but for fertilizer I have used fish emulsion and worm castings. I make aerated compost tea from the worm poop and spray that every few weeks.

I was really worried about squash bugs but so far it really has not beenthat big of deal, I have had a few but no like what I was expecting.

But what I do have a little problem with is Squash vine Borer. I have about 8 squash plants and have lost two to vine borers and another looks sickly. Having a little trouble with early blight, but I had that too
with chemicals.

Here is what we're looking like at the moment.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 9:37PM
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peter_6

I'd like to hear more on the herbicide half of the question. In my experience, insects are easy, but weeds are a bear. Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 5:24PM
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