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forest gardening vs. convnetional garden hygiene

12 years ago


I have a small forest garden type planting in my backyard, and it includes plenty of plants to attract beneficial insects. During the season I see lots of hoverflies, parasitic wasps, and ladybugs. Early growth of some plants like yarrow gets infested with aphids, but they soon disappear, presumably because the beneficials are doing their thing.

One pest problem I do have is with my Aronia bush, which gets an infestation of lace bugs every year. It still produces a lot of berries, but the damage is enough that I don't really get to see much red fall color. I have to think that the loss of healthy leaf surface area is reducing the growth and/or productivity of the plant.

One control method I've read is to clean up debris around the plant in the fall, because that's where the insects overwinter. That is, of course, contradictory to the forest gardening approach, where the layer of leaf litter is left in place to help build the soil.

Cleaning up all the fallen leaves seems to be common orchard advice to reduce pest and disease problems in general, and it seems like a good organic approach.

So this fall, I raked the area around the Aronia bush clear, and spread a layer of compost (which I bring in from the municipal compost center)....we'll see if the lace bug problem is reduced next year. I terms of soil building, that's a fine solution, but I do like the idea of letting the leaves stay where they fall.

Any thoughts on this?


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