bugs

Buying a box of bugs

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Whitefly (and a caterpillar) on the underside of our cucumber leaves
Whitefly (and a caterpillar) on the underside of our cucumber leaves

Sydney’s warm weather promotes the spread of a hundred types of bugs, most of which seem to love our pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini.

This includes whitefly, which can multiply to plague proportions, covering the underside of every large leaf in the garden. Whereupon they proceed to suck the life out of the plants.

This tube contains 10,000 beneficial bugs (!), delivered in the mail
This tube contains 10,000 beneficial bugs (!), delivered in the mail

So with the refrain of “whitefly, begone!”, I ordered a box of bugs. Montdorensis to be specific, which feed on whitefly and thrips (of various sorts).

The thrips are too tiny to see in the vermiculite mix
The thrips are too tiny to see in the vermiculite mix

A small cardboard tube contains 10,000 of these good bugs, and I’m hoping that they’ll establish a permanent presence in our garden (apparently they feed on mites and pollen when thrips are absent).

Good hunting little bugs!

The benefits of umbrelliferous plants

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Parsley plants gone to seed

The garden used to be overrun with aphids, sometimes to the extent that it was hard to find some plants under the seething mass of bugs (eww!).

One thing I learnt at my permaculture course was that umbrelliferous plants (plants with umbrella-shaped collections of tiny flowers) attract beneficial wasps into the garden. The wasps then inject their eggs into aphids, which hatch and eat the aphids from the inside out.

This all sounded good in theory, but I was doubtful. Nonetheless, I tried a different tack this year, and let many more plants to go seed. This included parsley, dill and fennel (all umbrelliferous plants). Much to my surprise, it worked! Narry an aphid to be seen anywhere since.

(We’ve also had good success with companion planting, such as garlic chives next to our climbing rose.)

Good scores for natural pest control…