Suck em Up Organic Gardeners!

Breaking Out the Vac!

How much simpler can one get in the organic garden? When I start seeing those pests cropping up in the garden I always break out my little hand held vacuum. The wet/dry vacuum is best because by adding a small amount of soapy water inside, as you vacuum up the bugs, they end up in the water and die. I like that!

Why spray anything whether organic or some homemade solution? It takes the same amount of effort to set the wet vac up as it does a spray rig. I keep mine handy on a wall mount inside the potting shed along with a couple of nice extension cords. Where ever I plug into an extension cord I tie a knot. This way if the cord snags on something as I'm dragging it around it doesn't come unplugged. I also don't like using really heavy cords and prefer keeping it lighter with a thinner one. It makes dragging it around a breeze.

Most experienced gardeners are already familiar with which bugs are bad and which ones are good. It's a good idea to learn about bugs, especially the bugs common to your area. We certainly don't want to suck up the good guys.

There are many good books as well as resources to be found on the internet. My favorite book is called Texas Bug Book: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly , written by . Malcolm Beck  and John Howard Garrett . These two authors have hands on experience and that's what I like to read.

Why we have such a run on names from the famous movie that features Clint Eastwood is what gives Texas its charm I think. A fun link on the internet is one called The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Texas' Amazing Insects by Dr. John C. Abbott. What amazing photos to really get an up and close look at identifying insects.

The Leaf-Footed Bug

Common Garden Pests

You will usually find me in my heirloom tomato patch with the vacuum sucking up some stink bugs. Sometimes they will be in clusters on the tomatoes sucking the juice from them. That usually makes it more fun for me because I can get a bunch of them all at one time. If some fly off, which they will do, I just wait about an hour or so and go back with the vac. Once things have settled down, believe me, they will come back.

I always feel so bad for my northern garden friends who have such an awful time with the Japanese Beetles. I don't have a problem with them in the south, but have seen the nasty photos posted of them destroying their gardens. My best advice when asked is to do like I do in Texas and suck em up!

The Squash Bugs are a common garden pest throughout the U.S. for most gardeners. Many gardeners have given up on trying to grow summer squash all together. This is another excellent opportunity to use the vacuum. I can usually find them trying to hide out down at the base of the plant. You have to use one hand to pull back a few of the large leaves to expose the insect and aim the hose right for them.

The vacuum is not a full proof method that will get rid of all of the bad bugs, but it will sure cut down on a whole bunch of them. The most important helper in getting rid of the bad bugs is having plenty of good bugs. The good bugs are natural predators that will consume the pests. Making sure you have plenty of diversity and natural habitats will help ensure and attract beneficial insects.

Pamela Kimsey
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