IPM: Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management or IPM is …
The basic idea is that if you really pay close attention to your garden you can prevent pest populations from getting out of control and if and when they do you can use the least toxic control methods first. The goal here is to impact our natural environment as little as possible and still feed our families. There will always be some pest in your garden and that is okay! They are the menu items to entice beneficial insects to come by for a snack! There is a certain balance in the pest community, that once achieved, is very effective! Mother nature balances things out if we allow her to. Not every leaf or fruit has to be unblemished to have a successful harvest!
It’s as simple as strolling through your garden on a daily basis! I do this in the morning with my coffee and find it to be my favorite activity of the day! Just walk through looking at your plants and notice any changes in them. Are they beginning to wilt? Turning brown or yellow? Are there holes or spots on leaves? If you catch the problem early you can take the steps necessary to ensure a healthy garden!
Once you do see a negative change it’s important you identify what is harming your plants! Proper identification is key to proper treatment. Look closely at damage and narrow it down, take pictures of damage and any insect you see. If you need to identify an insect, your local County Extension Office can assist you. There are also tons of webpages and Facebook groups that can help! Each pest or family of pests has a different method of controlling it. Knowing it’s life cycles and timing your treatment accordingly can save you a lot of time and money.
Using control methods listed below in this order will help prevent most problems.
- Biological – This is where all those beneficial insects I keep talking about become so important! If you allow the predators to thrive they will eat most of the bad bugs for you! So invite the good bugs in and don’t use pesticides that harm good and bad bugs!
- Cultural – Creating a prime environment for plants and not pests is a balancing act at times. Give your plants everything they need to be their strongest. Keeping plants healthy and weed free can protect them from being a target for pests and disease.
- Mechanical and Physical – Can be as simple as mulch to keep weeds out and fences to keep out browsing mammals. Also bait crops and traps for pest can be another way to control.
- Chemical – This is when you reach a point where nothing else above has worked! It’s important that you start with the least harmful, most target specific control chemical in an organic option. They must be applied correctly and at the right time to be most effective and least harmful.
So get out there with your coffee and observe your garden! Feel empowered that a few pests can be a good thing because you are balancing your ecosystem so that Nature can work for you!