Gardens

Keep Insects Away from Your Organic Blueberry Garden

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Effective insect control in your organic blueberry garden does not require expensive equipment or special horticultural training. With some advance planning and attention to detail, you can handle most garden pest outbreaks early-or even plant a garden that can fend pests off on its own.

Choose Pest-Resistant Berries

First, choose your blueberry varieties carefully.  All types of blueberries are generally good at resisting pests, but some blueberry species are especially resistant to insects. A Southern family of blueberries, known as "Rabbiteye" blueberries, is especially good at resisting most common blueberry insect pests, as well as recovering from what little insect damage they do face. Choosing pest-resistant plants in the first place means you won't have as many pests to fight off.

Not All Bugs are Bad

Next, try to attract the RIGHT insects.  Some common blueberry pests, such as aphids or cranberry fruitworms, are actually food for insects such as ladybugs and lacewing insects. Certain wasps also prey on garden pests. If you provide a habitat for aphid-preying insects, they will eat the harmful pests that invade your blueberry garden. Most beneficial insects are drawn to flowering plants, so simply planting flowers along the border of your garden will help. Different flowers bloom at different times, so choose some early-blooming flowers-such as pansies-as well as later-blooming varieties, like marigolds or zinnias. You can also plant some herbs, such as lavender, dill, or mint, which also bear flowers. Some flowers and herbs-such as nasturtiums, chrysanthemums, or spearmint-even repel common blueberry pests on their own. Be sure you keep this border well-watered-the friendly insects need water as well as food.

Set Some Traps

You can also control pests in your organic blueberry garden with insect traps. Most organic garden supply stores carry traps for common blueberry pests, such as aphids and Japanese Beetles.  These traps are generally easy to use-the trap for aphids is nothing more than a piece of sticky paper treated with a chemical which attracts aphids, which stick to the paper. You will need to replace your insect traps a few times during each growing season. 

Natural Insecticides

Some stubborn insects may still stray into your organic blueberry garden - but you can make your own organic insecticides to combat them. A simple solution of soap and water is a surprisingly effective pest spray. Use pure liquid soap, rather than a detergent such as dishwashing liquid, and mix two tablespoons into a spray bottle of water. When you see smaller pests on your blueberries, just give them a spray or two of this soapy water. Carry a cup of soapy water for larger pests-just pick them off the plants and drop them in the cup to drown. For a pest spray that also repels future insects, mix in a tablespoon of hot pepper sauce with the soap.

Last Resorts

If you have tried these methods and still face a pest problem, there are pest control sprays you can use which are still environmentally safe. Pyrethrum is an insecticide made from dried chrysanthemum powder, and is an effective, yet safe, pesticide. Most garden supply shops carry pest sprays with pyrethrum, or may carry pyrethrum in powder form so you can mix your own. Pyrethrum should be used as a last resort, though, because it may also kill beneficial insects.

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