Urban Farm Handbook

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You've planted your lettuce, peas and broccoli: now you can relax in your sunny backyard and watch your garden grow, right?


Garden pests like aphids, caterpillars, and slugs will destroy your backyard urban farm before you ever have the chance to harvest your veggies if you don't keep an eye on them and manage flair ups accordingly. Many gardeners resort to pesticides as a way to eliminate garden pests. Sure, the chemicals will spray them away, but it also will leave your garden more vulnerable in the long run to pest infestations.

Annette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols, authors of The Urban Farm Handbook, suggest eliminating garden pests organically as an alternative to traditional pesticides. Here are some tips to vanquish aphids, caterpillars, slugs, cutworms, and more in an organic way, without chemicals or pesticides.

  1. "Predatory" insects like ladybugs, wasps, and honeybees are good for your garden. Actually heroes, they eat the bad guys that eat your harvest! Ladybugs especially will chomp those aphids right off your broccoli.

  2. Invite these good predatory insects to stick around by providing them with habitat and food. They're attracted to weed flowers like calendula and Queen Anne's lace. See The Urban Farm Handbook for an extensive list of predator-attracting plants.

  3. Build healthy soil by following composting, worm bin, and biochar tips in Annette and Joshua's book. Healthy soil means healthy plants, and healthy plants don't fall prey to insects and disease -- at least as easily.

  4. Use old tricks like copper tape or beer traps to capture slugs or cutworms. Take nighttime trips into the garden, armed with a flashlight, to pick these pests off your plants.

  5. A birdbath with small stones can be a landing spot for butterflies and bees, persuading them to stay. Leave lichen, old spiderwebs, a pile of decomposing bamboo stakes, and other garden waste for hummingbirds to build their nests with. Predatory insects who feel at home will eat garden pests and keep your plants healthy. Which is all much healthier than poisonous pesticides!

Now, when you find that aphid or cutworm in your garden, think of it as bait for your hero bugs. The ladybugs, bees, and birds will protect your plants, and your pesticide and chemical free garden will thank you later.


- Adapted from The Urban Farm Handbook by Annette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols (Skipstone, $24.95, paperback)



Download the FREE chapter on "Growing Strategies To Maximize Garden Space" now from the Urban Farm Handbook

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