Attracting Beneficials (Nature's Pest Control)

You may remember from an earlier post that we decided to add a flower bed in front of garden this year.  The reasons were twofold: we wanted to attract beneficials to our garden as well as add aesthetic appeal.  (Also our amazing neighbors had extra landscaping stones that they gave us for free)!

I had learned from my Square Foot Gardening Book that marigolds helped control pests and attract beneficial insects.  So as soon as I started gardening I planted marigolds by my plants.  This was a step in the right direction, but this past winter I discovered there was more that could be done.

It all started when I was researching ways to have a more productive organic garden (there is always room for improvement and gaining knowledge) and I came across information on attracting beneficials to the garden.  I found it was about more than just planting a few marigolds.  One helpful fact sheet I found was: A guide to beneficials in the Home Garden

Here are some of the quick tips I learned to attract beneficials:
1. Include plants of varying heights
2. Plant at least 6 varieties of plants that attract beneficial insects
    (for ideas on plant varieties see link to site @ end of post)
3. Provide water for insects (as simple as a small saucer on a dry day)
4. Give insects on the ground some cover (stepping stones, mulch, flat stones, boards)

In response to this I decided to add a bird bath, a bird house and some decorative garden elements to the flower beds (we already had stones.)  I also designed the beds to have the taller plants starting in the back and the shorter plants in the front.  
Spacing out Zinnia seedlings
So after our last spring frost (mid May) I gathered all my flower seeds and zinnia seedlings and started the planting process. 
 Transplanted Zinnia seedlings

The flowers I choose to plant in the beds:

Echinacea- Purple Coneflower
Poppy- Giant Peony Mix
Lavendar- Lady
Marigolds- Eskimo White
Sunflowers- Summertime Mix
Sunflowers- Russian Mammoth
Wildflower- Butterfly Mix
Yarrow- White
Zinnias- both Cut and Come again & Lilliput (some were seedlings I planted.)

I also found this site that lists flowers to plant to attract beneficial insectsIt specifically lists out the types of insects that each flower will attract. 

This site provides easy to understand tables listing the pest and then has a table for attracting beneficial insects by plant. 

Seedlings and Seeds planted! Now its time to sit back & watch them grow.

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