Monday, August 15, 2011

Little Garden Guests

Starting out with gardening was quite fun but as I went on appreciating, discovering and learning the ropes of the new found hobby, I began to encounter several visitors that made me frown, some of them not that friendly to my plants. Frustrated and annoyed by their presence, I began to understand how nature works in my own little yard. Slowly, my attitude towards these unwanted visitors changed as I call to mind  "planting a little extra for the bugs."

Rainy season keeps the soil moist most of the time so with that I am spared from watering the plants. Even with enough drainage, soil gets muddy, surroundings damp. I panic everytime I see snails and slugs crawling, leaving iridescent trail on the walls and feeding holes on the leaves. Getting rid of them is by simply sprinkling them with salt causing their bodies to dry up and shrink. Crushing them would be too messy. During dry season, they bury themselves in moist ground, under barks of trees or stones. I usually encounter them early in the morning.
Gastropods Mollusks

Other visitors during rainy days are the millipedes. Though friendlier and harmless than the terrifying centipedes, I make it a point to get rid of them as they tend to multiply fast if ignored. They are friendlier in such a way that they don't bite, and they go for decaying and dead plants for their nourishment. Millipedes protect themselves from predators by rolling into a ball. They love to stay in cracks of  damp walls or concrete floors so during excessive rains, they tend to go out and look for a safer, and moist place but not wet. Maintaining the place dry which is impossible during rainy days is the only way to decrease millipedes so I try to sweep the water off from the concrete floors and secondly, I get rid of them by my hands. Nothing to worry about because they don't hurt and they move slowly. They emit a stinky odor when crushed.  


Whiteflies are in a way related to aphids. The stick under leaves, stems and even in the petals. They are more difficult to eradicate and a real garden pests, they just keep on coming back. Using pesticide would not be an option because kids love to play in the yard so I go for milder and safer ones which is spraying them with soap and water.

Dragonflies are frequent and favorite guests of all. I find them rather useful than any other insects that can be found in the yard because they eat insects particularly mosquitoes (another very unwanted visitors) that can cause hemorrhagic disease which is considered to be endemic in the area. Dragonflies are commonly found near ponds and lakes because young dragonflies are aquatic. One of my favorite things to do when I was in grade school was catching dragonflies, and then letting them go, watching them fly from one plant to another. For me they look like tiny soundless choppers, flying low, with their own different and distinctive colors. I just love to see a dragonfly on top of a water plant in a pond, too bad I don't have one in the yard.

It is quite amazing to discover how plants, insects and pests are interrelated and somehow influenced by each other. Nature has its own way of maintaining the garden ecosystem and it's up to the gardener how to manage and control these pests and diseases.


Cathy and Steve said...

Snails and slugs are a real nuisance and can quickly destroy tender plants. An all natural and inexpensive way to treat for them is to sprinkle food or agricultural grade diatomaceous earth in your beds. Don't use the stuff designed for swimming pools - it has nasty chemicals in it. You can get DE at any garden store and it is very inexpensive. I use a small strainer with a handle to just just everything.

As for the thrips, 2 T each of environmentally friendly soap (I use Seventh Generation brand) and canola oil in a pint of water makes an effective spray.

Good luck with the pests - we use only natural methods in our garden but the good news is they are inexpensive and highly effective!

hardinars said...

Thanks so much Cathy and Steve, now I'm learning a lot from you. I'll try to find those you mentioned, I really want to get rid of the pests. Thanks for sharing the idea!

These Hands