Monday, April 25, 2011

Integrated Pest Management

What is IPM?

I feel that I must set the record straight as to what IPM is, since there appears to be a lot of misleading information about IPM.

First, here is what IPM is NOT: it is NOT following a weed and feed regimen! People who tell you weed and feed is IPM are misled or trying to mislead you.

OK, so what is IPM?

1. IPM is working with nature to feed the soil. Healthy soil makes healthy plants that can defend themselves and recover from injury. Without healthy soil, the input of resources is required.

2. IPM is choosing the right plant for the use/area/microclimate/sun/water availability. IPM is working with nature not against it. You must understand a plant's needs and your area to select the plant(s) that will require the least input from you.

3. IPM means accepting some losses. Nothing is perfect and you’re not going to win every battle. Nature abhors a vacuum.

4. IPM means identifying the problem and understanding it. What are the pest’s strengths and weaknesses? Exploit the weaknesses and avoid its strengths. IPM requires monitoring—what is working and why? What is not working and why?

5. IPM is a holistic approach. Seeing your yard (garden, turf and perennial beds) as an entire system that can complement the defenses of one another. IPM is not monoculture! This is the whole companion planting concept, but on a larger scale. For example, providing habitat to attract and maintain pollinators for poorly performing orchards. Also, controlling run-off damage through rain gardens that also provide habitat for birds and beneficial insects to control pests. IPM is also looking at a plant’s needs and seeking other plants to satisfy those needs (clover in turf grass).

6. IPM does include synthetic pesticide control as a last fallback alternative. As described above, the synthetic control should be selected to target the pest's weaknesses when the pest is most susceptible. This is not prevention, it is remedial.

Over time, IPM will mean fewer inputs ($ and labor) on your part. When you have good soil and the right plants in place, you have created a system that works naturally.

I have a great example of IPM going on right now. My neighbor (traditional lawn care enthusiast) has a pretty extensive grub issue. No surprise given the overfeeding by the turf maintenance crew last year. Their lawn abuts mien and some of the damage encroaches a foot or two into my lawn. I have been monitoring it and this past weekend when I was overspreading my compost I checked it out. I've put milky spore down a few times in the past 5 years and have very few grubs in my lawn as a result. Milky spore is not like the Berlin wall. Grubs must eat the bacteria and then they die. I know this means they will eat the grass before they die. I'm OK with that. The grubs I dug up were milky white and so I'm going to keep and eye on it and repair it.



Friday, April 15, 2011

WormMainea Blog is now free of advertisements

You may have noticed that the blog is now free of advertisements.

For the past year, I have had a donations button and note on my website. I am surprised and delighted by the donations I have received to keep free of ads. Your generous donations have enabled me to make my blog ad free also.

I will soon have a redesigned site. Your generous donations have made all this possible.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!