Gardening Basics

The Joys of a Kitchen Garden

Good for the soul -- and the stomach -- kitchen gardens are more than just a source of fresh produce. They're a return to simpler times.

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Pest Control: Less Is Usually Best

Before you head for the insecticide, consider Paul James' tips for bug control.

"Oddly enough, cutting back on spray is one of the first steps," he says. "Too often people will reach for a broad-spectrum insecticide, which does get rid of bad bugs but also wipes out the beneficial insects."

A healthy plant can withstand a lot of bugs, Paul says, and if the gardener holds off for about a week, natural predators — such as ground beetles, damsel bugs and braconid wasps — may move in and help control the problem.

For those who want to introduce beneficials, such as ladybugs, be sure there's a good supply of aphids for them; otherwise you'll be doing the entire neighborhood a favor but perhaps nothing for your own garden.

As for four-legged pests that feed off the crops — deer, rabbits and raccoons, for example — Paul is philosophical. He's tried a lot of methods, even exotic elephant manure (which he calls pachy-poo). It is good for the garden, he says, but isn't so hot at controlling wild animals.

Fencing can work with rabbits if it's both high enough and low enough below ground, Paul says, but he thinks the high deer fencing is expensive and obtrusive.

His favorite solution for handling garden pests: figure out how to coexist peacefully — and plant a little extra.

Photo by Charles Brooks

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