Feeding the beneficials

            Of all insect species, at least 97 percent found in the home and garden landscape are beneficials or innocent bystanders, according to the Maine Cooperative Extension Service

Most beneficial insects in their adult state eat pollen and/or nectar. To attract them, plant flowers such as most annuals that bloom for a long time. Small-flowered plants, including many herbs and weeds (such as chickweed) are paticularly attractive to tiny parasitic wasps.

The list of plants that beneficials love includes parsley, dill, fennel, members of the mint family (lemon balm, spearmint, thyme), daisies, coneflowers, and goldenrod.

Other common nectar-producing plants include asters, bee balm, black-eyed susans  and other rudbeckia), borage, buckwheat, clover, cosmos, Joe-Pye weed, lavender, marigolds, members of the onion family, rasberries and other brambles, sage, marjoram, and tansy. And the list goes on.

The trick is to have a highly diversified garden and landscape to attract the beneficials that chomp and chew and digest the bugs that eat your veggies.

I keep seeing live beneficial insects offered in catalogs, but I see no sense in bringing them home and offering them nothing for lunch.

About lifegrower

Peter V. Fossel has been gardening since he was nine, and has been an organic farmer for the last 20 years. His most recent book, “Organic Farming, Everything You Need to know” was published by Voyageur Press, Minneapolis, 2007. He’s written numerous gardening articles for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Country Journal, Out Here, and American Profile among others. He was Gardens Manager for The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Tennessee before returning to Cape Cod to start his newest organic venture, Swan River Farm in Dennisport, MA.
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