As an organic gardener, I am always looking for new ways to control the pests in my vegetable garden without having to use chemicals. One of my favorite ways of controlling pests in both the vegetable beds and the rest of the yard is with free range chickens. Chicken do a great job of eliminating pests while also aerating and enriching the soil. A drawback in using chickens to control pests is that they can wipe out a newly planted vegetable garden in just an hour. And while letting them free range in a mature garden is less damaging, they can uproot crops like corn and take sample bites out of all your tomatoes.
For protecting vegetables against pests, a better solution is “trap cropping”. Trap cropping means interplanting your vegetable garden with a decoy plant that draws away the pests from your primary crop. Once the pests find the trap crop, they can be eliminated by removing the infested part of the plant. Trap crops are usually planted in one of two ways; around the perimeter of your vegetable plot which is known as “border trap cropping” or in between the rows or “row intercropping”.
One popular trap crop for drawing white flies away from your veggies are marigolds. And for protecting corn from stalk borers and leafhoppers, plant beans and other legumes between your corn instead. Other trap crops include dill intercropped with tomatoes to attract hornworms, horseradish to draw the Colorado potato beetle from a potato crop, and catnip to keep squash beetles at bay. You can learn more trap crops at P. Allen Smith Garden Home.
Trap cropping has all kinds of benefits for the organic gardener. Not only does it make our vegetable gardeners a little less vulnerable to pests, it let’s maintain the natural balance that exists in our yards including the beneficial bugs that keep other pest populations in check.
OISAT: Trap cropping
Grow Veg.com: Trap Cropping to control pests
Allen Smith: Pest Control Plants
More by this contributor:
8 high yield vegetables for the garden
What vegetable seeds grow best in my area
Why I plant vegetables and flowers together