Attract Beneficial Bugs (Day 2 of 30 DTABG)

marigolds in the garden
In the quest of a perfect organic garden, most people strive to attract beneficial insects to their garden to eat the pesky bugs. (Read more about the benefits of beneficial insects here) You can go and buy praying mantises and ladybugs and release them into your yard, but another way is to invite them in. We do this by planting flowers at the ends and corners of our vegetable garden spaces. In front of our vegetable garden I keep about a 40 foot border of perennial flowers to attract beneficials, but then in our vegetable garden we add in more spots of flowers. This year we are doing both marigolds and sunflowers.

Most any flowers will help, but if you are headed to the nursery to find a few new 6-packs, look for big fat flowers. Think of them as little landing pads for flying bugs to land on. Marigolds, cosmos, bee balms, sunflowers, zinnas anything with a nice big flower head would make a great addition.

Birds are also great at eating the bad bugs, so invite them in with a new bird feeder, bird house or bird bath. And if you set out big tomato cages like we do, you have cat safe bird perches (and, uh, instant bird manure for your tomatoes too).

Do you make a habit of adding flowers to your veggie garden? If so, what kind?

12 Comments

Filed under 30 Days to a Better Garden, Bad Bugs, Good Bugs

12 responses to “Attract Beneficial Bugs (Day 2 of 30 DTABG)

  1. yes, I always try to get dill, parlsey and corainder to grown and flower. All those umbels are good beneficials!

  2. Jonelle

    I have herbs and marigolds inter-planted with my veggies. I also plan to get some sunflowers into the ground this week even though it’s a little late. But it’ll be hot here through September, so I think they’ll have plenty of time to grow. Since this is my first “real” veggie garden, I have no evidence as to whether having flowers nearby will help with bug control or not. It certainly didn’t help with the slugs and caterpillars during our extremely wet spring. Lost most of my broccoli and cabbage.

  3. Betsy

    This year I added zinnias, sunflowers and yarrow. I already had calendula and parsley, which I let flower this year (2nd year), along with chamomile. I’ve already noticed a big difference with healthy bug levels. I had a huge aphid infestation until the ladybugs took over!

  4. Kim

    I always plant marigolds around and within my tomatoes. This year I also planted sunflowers.

    My grandfather always had a border of bright red salvia around his garden. I plant some every year to remember him by.

  5. Jenn

    I have found that birds peck at my tomatoes….does this ever happen to you?

    • asonomagarden

      Jenn-We might have had a peck or two in the past, but nothing that’s been too detrimental to the crop.

      Jonelle-Unfortuately I don’t think beneficial plants deter those pesky slugs and snails. The only truly effective and kid-friendly thing to deter slugs and snails in our experience is using copper tubing. The copper gives them a little jolt which makes them quickly retreat.

  6. When I plant my tomatoes I sew marigold seeds. I do not encourage birds in my garden. They peck at fruit or vegetables then flitter over to another. Punks! Garden cats to the rescue.

    I’ll try to remember to post photos of my marigolds because they are exploding now. By the way, please gather your marigold seeds and you’ll never have to purchase marigolds as long as you live.

  7. I did plant some marigolds…and unfortunately the only thing they attracted were the slugs and snails! Yikes! I wanted to do sunflowers…but I got a late start on those so…not this year. This year is a learning experience…so now I know, when I plant everything, including the flowers, set out snail bait as well!

  8. The purple coneflowers I planted last year are just about to blossom. I was excited to see them return, I thought they were annuals. I’ve also sown some zinnia and cosmos seeds although the cosmos haven’t germinated. The marigolds I planted using saved seed were lost to the snails. My Nasturtium has returned every year for a while now also. Flowers also attract pollinators to the garden, although I guess not all vegetables require pollination to fruit.

  9. Sweet blog. I never know what I am going to come across next. I think you should do more posting as you have some pretty intelligent stuff to say.

    I’ll be watching you . 🙂

  10. Pingback: Four Years of Junes : 30 Days to a Better Garden Revisited | A Sonoma Garden

  11. Melissa Horton

    Love your blog! Off to take a garden walk…

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