Video: Using Mulch For Pest Control
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A weakened plant is more affected by pests
“Nothing is said anywhere about pests. And at the same time, they usually write that they are hiding in plant debris. How, then, to deal with them?"
The issue of pest control in the framework of natural agriculture is the most difficult for gardeners and gardeners who are accustomed to traditional agricultural technology to understand. It is difficult not because everything is very difficult, but quite the opposite. The whole strategy of protecting crops in natural farming comes down to a complete rejection of pest control. This is what gardeners often cannot accept. How not to fight like this? And yet, this principle works.
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I can declare this with full responsibility based on my own experience. There are more striking examples from the experience of gardeners, in areas of which there are no problems with pests. There are many of them. The most famous of them are Ivan Parfentievich Zamyatkin from the Krasnoyarsk Territory and Alexander Ivanovich Kuznetsov from Altai. On the sites of these people, a biocenosis has been created - a natural balance in which the number of pests and diseases is regulated by the system itself without human intervention.
Alternating crops in the garden
Pests really hide in plant debris. But there are also entomophages who find shelter and destroy these pests. Pay attention to how everything happens in the forest, in untouched meadows. No one destroys plant residues there. But you are unlikely to see such an invasion of pests there as in our dachas and personal plots. By destroying plant debris, we destroy entomophages than we do more harm than good.
Elimination of entomophages is only one side of the issue. Plant residues are food for soil "inhabitants" (saprophytes) - microbes, fungi, insects. Less plant residues - less saprophytes - less plant nutrition. It's no secret that plants are 50% carbon. The source of carbon for plants is carbon dioxide, which saprophytes release during respiration.
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On a plot devoid of plant residues, it is possible to replenish the plant nutrition with mineral substances with the help of fertilizers. But it will not be possible to increase the amount of carbon dioxide.
Plants with a lack of this essential nutrient are weakened, which means they are attractive to pests. In addition, the bare ground dries up quickly, and we can not always water and loosen the beds in time, which also does not add health to the plants. You can be sure that pests will find your weakened plants. They feel the plants "tasty" for them at long distances and will certainly crawl or fly to you.
Nature abhors a vacuum. Can any of us create an airtight dome that pests will not penetrate? And where they come from, there are no problems here - they always exist in the wild. It turns out such a chain: removed plant residues - destroyed entomophages and pests - weakened plants by an imbalance in nutrition or its lack - attracted pests. As they say, what they fought for, they ran into it. Pests have not decreased, and we have cut the food for our green pets.
It's no secret that pests primarily affect sick, weakened plants. This is probably seen by any gardener. Two plants grow nearby, they even touch with leaves. One is severely affected by the pest, on the other there is no damage at all.
Healthy plants synthesize substances that make them "tasteless" to pests. Unfortunately, a person does not always notice this. For example, plants, generously fed with nitrogen fertilizers, externally are full of health - they are bright, beautiful, and grow quickly. But due to unbalanced nutrition, their immunity is weakened. Pests feel this very subtly.
It is possible to balance nutrition in terms of mineral elements, but besides them, the plant needs many other substances. Science has not yet fully figured out all the diversity of these substances; mankind does not yet know about the existence of many of them. But in living natural soil, all this is present. In addition, microbes, fungi, worms, insects living in the soil have an effect on plants. In isolation from these multifaceted mutual influences, mutual assistance (symbiosis), plants are weakened to one degree or another.
There is no need to fight with carrot and onion flies in such beds.
This means that they are attractive to pests. One of the aspects of the strategy of dealing with pests in natural agriculture is based on this fact. Healthy plants with strong immunity are not attacked by pests, or recover very quickly. You must first take care of the health of the plants, and then the problem of pests will disappear by itself.
Unfortunately, the plants can be weakened by unfavorable weather conditions. A striking example for the south of the Omsk region is the summer of 2008. Very cold May, cloudy June with almost no precipitation, and 35-degree heat in July did not contribute to the well-being of plants. Crops are suppressed, even weeds are clearly lagging behind in growth. In such conditions, expanse for pests. But biocenosis is a very wise system. It has many ways to contain harmful insects. One of the ways is to help insects, birds, animals that feed on pests.
At a visiting lesson of the potato growers' club on my site, one woman asked the question: “All conditions have been created on your site for the breeding of slugs. Why are they not there? " Later, I managed to visit this woman's site, and I myself saw potato leaves eaten by slugs and these pests themselves in large numbers.
I always leave flowering dill plants in cabbage, which has eliminated the invasion of cabbage butterflies for several years.
But at the site she followed all the recommendations for dealing with slugs. What's the matter? Everything is very simple. There are many frogs on my site, and they control the number of slugs. Conditions that are comfortable for slugs are also comfortable for frogs. This is how it works in nature - the enemies of pests live exactly where these same pests are common.
Once in a conversation, one friend said: "It turns out that you breed pests in order to increase the number of their enemies …". Of course it is not. You just need to admit the presence of a small amount of pests on the site, like a feeder for those who exterminate them. There are also such techniques in traditional agricultural technology. Take, for example, the popular recommendation to keep several tansy plants on site as an aphid remedy. Try it. And you will see an interesting picture.
Tansy attracts aphids, which settle on it in large numbers. After some time, the abundance of aphids attracts ladybirds, which are already beginning to exterminate the pest throughout the entire area. A balance is created between pests and their enemies.
Testes of carrots, parsnips, caraway seeds are very attractive for entomophages
More pests appear, the number of their enemies is growing. The biocenosis itself begins to regulate the number of pests. As a result, it is maintained “below the harmfulness threshold” without human intervention. This does not mean that there are no pests at all, but there are very few of them. You just need to accept that there should be a small number of pests.
One of the principles of natural farming is avoiding monoculture. This technique also helps to reduce the number of pests. When plants of one species do not grow in a continuous field, but interspersed with others, it is difficult for pests to find them. The variety of smells confuses them. On my site, I alternate narrow beds with different crops, including potatoes.
On some beds, I use combined planting. For example, garlic with carrots. Or onions with carrots.
In cabbage, I always leave flowering dill plants, which has eliminated the invasion of cabbage butterflies for several years. More experienced naturalists combine different crops in each garden bed.
In articles on gardening topics, crop rotation is often talked about. It seems that everyone knows about this, but very few people actually carry out this operation. But in vain. Reception is very effective against many diseases and pests. For example, only the use of crop rotation allows you to forget about the wireworm.
Flowering plants help to attract beneficial entomophagous insects to the site. The testes of carrots, parsnips, and caraway seeds are very attractive to entomophages.
Dill, coriander spread over the site by self-seeding, you just need to leave them where they do not interfere. In addition, on the site almost all the time there are flowering siderates left for seeds: sweet clover, rapeseed, oil mustard, phacelia, white mustard, sainfoin, vetch, watercress.
I have already written above that I am not trying to completely get rid of weeds. They, too, can effectively attract entomophages. In some places I leave plants of tansy yarrow, hemp, chamomile, burdock. Some pest control experts argue that the population of entomophages in the complete absence of weeds decreases dramatically. Some weeds scare away pests, others serve as a refuge for their enemies.
Spicy aromatic herbs growing on the site also contribute: mint, catnip, lovage, oregano, tarragon, creeping thyme. For all of the above herbs, the function of attracting beneficial insects is not basic, but as if additional. I do not sow or plant anything specifically to protect against pests on the site.
Almost all summer bloom, replacing each other, onions batun, shnit, wild garlic, slime, anzur
This is not a principled position, just a little of our own developments in this regard, you need to experiment, check. I think it would be interesting if the readers also shared their experience of using plants against pests.
I am not calling for a complete abandonment of any action against pests. There are times when such intervention is necessary. For example, if the pest has no natural enemies, like the Colorado potato beetle. Or if the number of pests is so high that it threatens the complete destruction of plants. In this case, it is worth using biological agents, since there are a lot of them now.
The book by Nikolai Kurdyumov "Protection instead of struggle" has already appeared on sale, it discusses preparations in sufficient detail, the features of their use. I think everyone will find something useful in this book for the period of formation of the biocenosis on his site. But nevertheless, the main goal in the relationship with pests should not be protection, but the harmonious mutual existence of all forms of life.
We have covered some of the issues related to pest reduction. But it would be wrong to ignore the topic of the benefits brought by pests. It sounds strange to many, but pests are not absolute evil. In nature, pests perform the role of orderlies. Destroying weak and sick plants, they save the species from imminent extinction.
On our plots this pest function can also be used. They are a very good indicator of disease. At an early stage, the disease does not manifest itself by external signs, but is already present in the plant. This is often the case with viral diseases. The plants are outwardly healthy, but with vegetative propagation, the disease will manifest itself in the next season. For example, in my practice I use the "Colorado selection" of potatoes.
On the seed plot, be sure to note those bushes on which the beetle larvae appeared. The crop from these bushes will not get into the seeds, no matter how big it is. A person, applying all kinds of selection methods, can be mistaken. The beetle is never wrong. He always chooses plants that are weak or diseased, that is, those that potentially cannot give a large harvest in the future.
Scientists have developed a large number of growth stimulants to date. But plants can synthesize stimulants themselves. They do this in response to pest damage. As soon as the pest starts its business, in a healthy plant immunity sharply increases, substances are produced that make it inedible, and growth processes are enhanced. The plant tries to defend itself on its own and restore the lost vegetative mass. Crops that grow on living soil, get everything they need, succeed. Moreover, a damaged plant signals an attack to other plants of its own kind, and they also sharply increase immunity. Sounds fantastic, but it's a scientifically proven fact.
But in order for the plants to be constantly ready to repel an attack, a small amount of the pest must be present. There are no pests and diseases, and there is no immunity. A fed plant under sterile conditions can die from a minor illness. Everything in nature is wise, you just need to observe and try to create conditions close to natural. Then the pests will become helpers.
Aromatic herbs growing on the site also contribute: mint, catnip, lovage, oregano, tarragon, creeping thyme
Everything changes when a person decides to help his garden, orchard. As a rule, it all comes down to the use of potent poisons. The pest dies. Phytophages, natural enemies of pests, also perish. This is followed by a new appearance of pests, and adapted to the poisons used.
Pests multiply very quickly, but phytophages cannot boast of this - they need much more time to reproduce. The man again grabs the sprayer and everything starts all over again. Only the poisons used last year will not be so effective this year, you will have to look for new ones. Pests very quickly develop immunity, sometimes one season is enough for this.
Everyone is free to choose for himself what is closer to him. I prefer to entrust the bulk of the trouble of protecting against pests to nature. And get vegetables free of poisons and their decomposition products.