2012 Newsletter #4 – Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

Whenever we give a farm tour the most asked question is “how do you manage the bugs?”  There are a lot of ways to manage bugs organically. Ironically floods are an important tool in our pest control arsenal. We rely on winter floods to drown out the larvae of some of our pests — it’s eerily beautiful on the farm during a flood when there is a riot of birds feasting on all the bugs floating on the water’s surface. Unfortunately we didn’t flood this winter so the pests that love our brassica’s, like cabbage moths, are thriving… this is why our hearty greens are coming in a little extra holey this year. Another control method we employ is to plant a buffer crop of canola around our fields. Canola is a particularly tasty member of the brassica family, so much so that the bugs would MUCH rather munch on canola than our broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, collards, radishes or turnips, YAY! And if we are really being overrun with brassica pests we can flame weed the canola, killing them where they live. We also have a lot of plants around the farm to attract BENEFICIAL insects. We’ve planted hedgerows of flowering plants that act as seasonal housing for good bugs. Then there are the crops we keep around after they have bolted to create their flowers (and ultimately seeds) — Veggies like the fennel and radicchio and herbs like dill and cilantro all have these amazing flowers that attract a host of beneficial insects. … click here to read full newsletter