This Year’s Garden Experiments: Organic Bug Control

4x4-Square-Foot-Garden-Box-2012

 

4x4 Square Foot Garden Box 2012
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If you’ve been following along with our Garden Experiments, you may know that we’ve experienced a few mishaps along the way.  Recently, I showed our abundant green bean harvest, so you may also know that we’ve experienced some success as well.

The first major Garden Experiment was the implementation of a new method: Square Foot Gardening.  You can read more about that here: This Year’s Garden Experiments, Take Two.

Today, I’d like to reveal (finally!) the second part of This Year’s Garden Experiment.  Are you ready?

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Here’s the nutshell version: We bought guineas.  Twice.  For bug control.  It’s working.

Want more details?  Read on.

Squash Bugs

First of all, we’ve had terrible, horrible, no good, very bad luck with squash bugs for the last few gardening seasons.

Last year, our entire crop of squash, melons and pumpkins was decimated by the little buggers. We’d go out to the garden and hand pick the eggs from the poor plants, even as the vines withered before our very eyes.  The plants were just crawling with squash bugs.

It was so, so sad.  And so demoralizing–all that work, for nothing.

Squash Bug Eggs and Nymphs
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Squash bug eggs (photo credit) and nymphs (photo credit).

 

Great Green Gourd Harvest

Thankfully, our gourds did great, and we still had fun fall decorations from our own garden. You can’t really eat gourds, though, so we felt totally gypped in the whole squash department.

How Interesting…

Fueled by that massive defeat, I set about scouring the internet for advice on conquering squash bugs without resorting to chemicals.

Every organic tip I could find seemed so complicated.  Until I came across this useful piece of information: “Guinea Fowls eat squash bugs.”

Hmmm.

 

The Trouble with Chickens

We had hoped our chickens–acquired in early spring of last year–would help with the squash bug problem, but obviously they were no help at all.

The trouble with chickens is that they shouldn’t be allowed in the actual garden.  Outside the garden, yes.  But inside the garden, they will eat both the bugs (good) and the plants (bad).

Chicken
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Success Against the Squash Bugs

As it turns out, guineas can enjoy free reign of the garden without damaging the plants. They do peck at the plants a bit, but not enough to kill them.

And I tell you what, they truly are a force to be reckoned with in the bug control department. The squash bugs we’ve seen this year could be counted on one hand.

Success!

A String of Setbacks

However, before we were to enjoy the sweet taste of success in our battle against the armies of squash bugs, we faced a string of setbacks.  They almost did us in–spelling success for the squash bugs–but we persevered and won out in the end.

Stay tuned for the next post about This Year’s Garden Experiment: The Great Guinea Massacre.  [Warning: it’s a gory tale.]

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Kathleen Henderson

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>

2 Comments

  1. valerie on 08/27/2013 at 4:33 pm

    So glad the guineas were a big help in keeping the bugs at bay in your garden!

    • Kathleen on 08/27/2013 at 7:07 pm

      Yep, they’re finally earning their keep.

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