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Pest Control in Grocery Row Gardens vs. in Row Gardens


Over in our Skool community, Laurie asks:

Do you treat your row gardens any differently than your GRG? I am trying to decide if I really want to go out with a flashlight before dawn to look for squash bugs, although I need to at least once to really see what they and their eggs look like. Perhaps I just haven’t had a real problem with them yet. We have enough brush and debris for bugs and birds to live, and I see lots of butterflies and bees.

It depends on how bad we need the production, and how bad the pest problems are.

During the 2020 pandemic, we vigilantly defended our crops from pests because we wanted to make sure we had lots of food. When you open up a new space and plant some rows, it’s usually going to come under attack by pests. If you really need that food, you may have to fight for it.

A tilled row garden is not at all close to a natural ecosystem so the proper balance of predators and pests isn’t in play. You’ll probably have to “play God” more than you would in a permaculture system. And if that means going out with a flashlight or baiting slugs with dishes of beer or spraying leaves with something or other, that may just be what has to be done.

We are rather lazy about our gardening. We love to build big, beautiful systems that don’t require fiddly maintenance; hence the evolution from small beds of annuals to large, mixed polycultures.

A lot goes into keeping pest damage low, from polycultures (as in my last video) to nutrition and watering, to planting the right crops for your area. We have some crops that never get hurt by pests (true yams, cucuzza squash, cassava), and others that attract them at plague levels (broccoli and cabbage, lettuce, bush beans).

Over the years we’ve moved towards planting the pest-resistant crops in large collections of perennials and annuals, on top of compost, ash, manure and biochar-amended soil, then letting nature sort out what does well and what doesn’t.

Go thee forth and hunt those squash bugs!


Come join us on Skool for gardening help – and our food forest course!

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