Friday, November 27, 2009

Pesky Pests

Pests are problematic, but it seems contradictory to douse plants with poisonous substances – because ultimately, our goal is to eat them. If the chemicals kill pests, what are the long-term health effects on us? Ideally, one should manage pests before they even arrive in the garden. That is, use sustainable techniques like crop rotation, soil structure, and pH management in order to increase a crop's resistance to pests.

Fire ants have been a concern in the garden recently, but we don't want use harsh pesticides to control them. We are trying to find a sustainable method to get rid of the ants, so we applied cornstarch to the beds, which, according to the ever-dependable internet, expands in their bodies and kills them. Apparently, this is a myth. We tried it, only to learn that the cornstarch was ineffective.

(above) Beth applying cornstarch to the oregano

Also, the copious amounts of rain we've had in the past month hasn't really been ideal for the plants, but it did at least wipe out a giant ant bed that was once plopped in the middle of the chives.

The use of pesticides reflects our cultural mindset: we prefer quick, easy solutions and don't look too far into the future to see the consequences of our actions. Sustainable pest control is about long-term solutions that take into consideration all of the factors. Most of the time, the best solution is to kill the pests, but to build an immunity in the crops with sustainable methods like crop rotation and fostering healthy soil.

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