An Updated Perspective


Speaking of killing, some pesticides are a valuable tool to those partaking in the Green Methods. A very different approach is required, though. Typical spray implementation would go something like this: the grower notices some pests and the appropriate spray is taken out of the locker and used in the general area where the pests were seen. A period of time must pass before workers are allowed into the area, then the effects are gauged. The spray is reapplied again until the desired effects are noted — in other words when all the pests are dead. This is typical for the present day. An atypical approach, and one which is lot less environmentally- and safety-sensitive would be to spray everything once a week or so. The latter borders on irresponsible (this is being nice), but neither are conducive to using biocontrols.

When biocontrols are being used, one must first determine which sprays can be used as many/most are toxic to the good bugs as well as the bad. Then the appropriate spray(s) — selected because of their biorationality or compatibility with biocontrols — are employed in a very focused fashion. The goal in this case is to limit the spray used to lessen any negative effects. In this scenario one would not only choose the right chemical, whether natural or synthetic, and use it judiciously in a direct attack against the pests, but one would also change their thinking about spraying.

Using biocontrols in an IPM program, one not only changes what is applied and how it’s done, but also the general thinking surrounding such an act. With the Green Methods, spraying plants or sections or bays or structures isn’t the way it’s done. Spray the pests and only the pests, and only when and where needed. However, this means you’ll need to know a lot about the pests you’re battling. This is where scouting and education come to play.

Physical Controls

Ever hear someone refer to something being used in a pinch? Physical controls could be deemed as such. In fact, the pinch could be the thing used. Pests can become resistant to pesticides. They can run or fly away from biocontrols. But let’s see them weasel out of a quick death by thumb and forefinger. It’ll make you feel good, too. Pinching pests works in certain circumstances. So does vacuuming up clouds of whiteflies. So does wiping away spider mite webs. Physical controls, so far, are the sum of these actions. It goes further, though. Insect repellents and barriers like screens, may also be seen as physical controls. Screens and repellents can keep pests separated from plants and their guardian parasitoids. When it comes to physical controls, two major limiting factors are your time and imagination. The time is usually worth it (just let your imagination guide you). But as the name suggests, it is physical, so be prepared to get down in the trenches to fight your war with pests.

Plant Health

This topic can get very involved. It is the number-one secret of organic growers. You take care of the plants and they’ll take care of themselves. Or, in the case of the really savvy organic growers, take care of the soil and the rest will happen naturally. As was written before, this can get involved, but the premise is simple and true to the core. Healthy plants are resistant to most pests and diseases. Provide everything the plants will need in the soil, maintain this, and everything else should fall into place with very little input or intervention on your part. The plants will blend into the landscape. The pests won’t see them as the sore thumbs they might otherwise be. Even if they’re unusual plants in rows or are the July tropics during a January freeze. However, be careful you don’t over-manipulate or overdo things as this can have negative consequences. Try to keep it natural and healthy.

Trap- and Banker-Crops

Bugs love plants; good bugs as well as bad. We all know this to be true. Yet, when we empathetically look through the eyes of bugs, we still fail to see as they do. That’s okay, it’ll be spelled out here. The bugs, both kinds, see the same things we do: plants. More specifically, they see the plants we’re trying to grow for a living — and they look good. It’s what we don’t see that messes things up. We don’t see what’s missing from the bugs’ perspective. The diversity is missing from the greenhouse (this problem affects gardens less so). Pollen and nectar are a necessity to bugs. So is food and water and shelter. Certain crops, if nearby, will harbor all sorts of bugs. Let them; better there than in your cash crop.


Trap-crops are full of flowering diversity and will allow a peripheral vacation spot for all your bugs to enjoy (where they can be seen and monitored so they don’t cause mischief). So plant some near your crop area.


Banker crops on the other hand, will be integral to the cash crop but will perform the same thing essentially. These plants, which tend to be a monoculture, are geared more towards your good bugs. Banker-crops are almost like a mini insectary. They’ll harbor certain pests for the purpose of kicking the reproduction of your good bugs into high gear. Plant these in amongst your cash crop.


Read everything all the time. Ask everyone about anything. Use your suppliers, your peers, even your competitors to get information. The more you know, the less you’ll be surprised. Learn more about growing. Brush up on plants diseases. Educate yourself about critters. Know soils. Beef up your plant health improvement skills. And, most importantly, develop some living resources from which you can draw information. Learn who you can turn to, then don’t hesitate to do so. Start with us if you wish; we’ve dedicated ourselves to your quest.


This has to be the single most important aspect of growing. And it has nothing to do with how you’ll go about mitigating your pests. It has to do with knowing what the heck is going on in your garden, greenhouse, nursery, field or interiorscape. Granted, it’s even more critical when using the Green Methods because you are supposed to act proactively, not reactively (plus there are ordering deadlines for these highly perishable products), but this is an essential practice no matter what you do. There once was a grower who had a pretty good first year using biocontrols. This grower commented on the huge labor-savings he experienced using good bugs instead of the chemicals he’d used for years. However, he did complain that the savings was taken up by the time spent on his weekly scouting regimen. To him this scouting thing was new. We told him he should have been scouting all along. This was about seven years ago. He now scouts realizing that his time saved from spraying is still a savings.

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