low till gardening and insect pests

joannaqcw(NY 4/5)March 15, 2008

I'm interested in experimenting with low-till gardening; it sounds like a good way to save labor, improve soil structure and maybe encourage beneficials. But I wonder if that is apt to exacerbate my problems with insect pests. Has anyone who was having insect problems gone low-till/no-till?

I am having trouble with flea and cucumber beetles (severe) and Japanese beetles, tomato hornworms and cabbage worms (moderate). I know these insects overwinter in the soil.

Some garden books recommend removing all plant material from the soil and disturbing it thoroughly. My regular disturbances haven't gotten rid of the pests yet. I would appreciate any advice.

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Trichogramma should help with everything except the Cucumber beetle and Japanese beetles:


I know for a fact that tilling won't effect JB's. Even if you do manage to kill the grubs that are located on your soil, your neighbor's will still provide you with JB's. There is a parasitic wasp that will kill JB's, but you can't purchase them online. Here's a link to the information:


I recommend no tilling. Continuously add compost, grow green manures and grow varieties of crops that are immune to Cucumber beetles. The parasitic wasps should help control the other problems besides JBs but it is also important that you establish some food sources for these beneficial bugs. They feed on the nectar of various flowers. Setup some food sources around the border of your garden and introduce the Trichogramma. Maybe within time you can attract the JB's parasitic wasp and they'll take care of the JBs for you. Any other means of dealing with JB is futile unless your whole neighborhood does it.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 6:15PM
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