Which Garden Bugs are Good for Your Garden?

lady beetle perched on a blade of grassYou have just begun your new garden, and the seedlings have begun to thrive and flourish. This is the time when bugs, pests and other organisms begin to inhabit the new ecosystem that is your garden. Some of them will want to harm your plants and you will want to take those out. But, there are also bugs that are beneficial and are necessary in helping your garden flourish while keeping away pests or diseases that may endanger your plants. Also, they can completely replace the use of pesticides.

Here are some friendly bugs that can help your garden, how they can help, and how to identify them:

Lady Beetle

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Famous for their red trunk and black spots, this lovely bug is the easiest to spot and is one of the most beneficial garden pet you can have. Both adult and larvae ladybugs feed on aphids, mites, and other soft bodied bugs that may be invading your garden. An adult lady beetle can eat up to 50 aphids in one day! Ask your garden center or local gardening store if they are selling some.

Ground Beetle

black beetle

Similar to lady beetles, these nocturnal creatures feed on slugs, snails, insect eggs and larvae. They are quite easy to notice as they can grow as big as ¾ inch, can be dark blue/dark brown and have long legs. Invite them to your garden by providing ground covers like logs or stones.

Lacewings

lacewings

 

Characterized by their large wings that look wispy and lace-like, this garden bug is a voracious predator that devours aphids, moth eggs, small caterpillars, and scales. When they are not pouncing on garden pests, they do love nectar. Plant a few flowering plants around your garden to attract Lacewings.

Dragonfly

dragonfly

There are a number of species of dragonflies around the world. Their distinct four transparent wings, large eyes, and narrow body make them easy to spot. Aside from being very beautiful, dragonflies feed on mosquitoes, aphids and other pests that may be wandering around your garden. A pond, or any small body of water where they can deposit their larvae will surely attract dragonflies in your area.

Honeybees

honey bee

Probably one of the most important bugs to invite to your garden, they do one of the most important tasks, pollinate many of your plants. These buzzing garden friends are easily identified by their thick balls of yellow fuzzy pollen near their heads and their gold and black stripes. Encourage wild honey bees to visit your garden by growing flowering plants. Not only will you be getting a garden pollinator, you will also be helping the dwindling population of these busy workers grow their numbers

Learning which bugs can help your garden and how to introduce them to your crops are a healthier alternative to using pesticide that may harm you and your family in the long run. Check out your local gardening shop, odds are they have their own nursery for these helpful bugs or will have the resources needed to attract them to your garden.

 

Raised Bed Gardens

Picture of a Raised Bed GardenHow to create a Raised Bed Garden

A raised garden bed is a must have for the advanced gardener. In a nutshell, a raised garden bed is like a huge plant box that offers a lot of benefits to the gardener by creating a controlled environment designed to provide a plant’s needs to grow better and yield more produce.

Ready to start creating a raised bed garden? Here’s how:

4×8 is an Ideal Size

After picking a free spot in your garden that gets plenty of sunlight, it’s time to measure your raised bed dimensions. 4 feet wide by 8 feet long is usually a good size because most lumber are sold in 4-feet or 8-feet increments. You don’t want to make your raised bed garden too big so you can plant a variety of plants that thrive in different soil mixes while avoiding spread of diseases. If you are planning on using a bigger part of your garden, consider creating multiple raised beds.

Multiple Raised Garden Beds

 

Prepare the Area
There are a couple of ways to prepare the area for your raised garden bed. The traditional method is called Double dig. It involves removing top soil and loosening the subsoil while replacing the top soil with organic matter. This can be quite labor-intensive but provides excellent irrigation, traps warmth in the soil, and allows deeper rooting for your plants. The minimum depth of your bed is around 6-12 inches

picture of someone double digging garden beds

 

Building your Bed
The bed can be made of timber and other types of woods like cedar, blocks, bricks or even plastic (faux) timber. Assemble the construction materials using screws or galvanized nails.

Woman assembling a garden bed

 

A Good Potting Mix is a Good Start
Some produce thrive better on acidic conditions, while others like a more alkaline environment. This is where you can make sure the plants get exactly what they need to thrive. Add your potting mix and start planting or transplanting your greens!

 

Plant in potting mix

 

Raised bed gardening allows the gardener to give their plants the environment it needs to thrive. It’s also a great option for areas that have problematic soil that are prone to pests, frost, nutrient-deficiency, and compacting.

 

Basic Gardening Tools

woman with basic gardening tools

Gardening can be beneficial in a number of ways. It’s therapeutic, meditative and brings us closer to Mother Nature. Some studies even show that getting your hands in the dirt can help boost the immune system.

 

The daunting part comes when you start getting the tools and products you need. “Will it be expensive?”, “What if I don’t have all the tools?” are some of the questions that make many soon-to-be-gardeners a little apprehensive. Some of us may have a limited amount of budget and that’s not a bad thing. Look at it this way, you can focus on the basics and build your way from there. With a limited budget in mind, here are 4 basic gardening tools that can help you get started.

Gardening Trowel

gardening trowel

One of the best multi-purpose tools that your garden can have. Usually a made with a forged blade with a wooden handle, this tool can be used to dig hard, rocky soil. The good thing about a good garden trowel is that it can double up as a shovel for small gardens, a weeder, and as a substitute for soil knives.  Look for pointy, scoop-shaped stainless steel blades that is sharp enough to function as a soil knife that is shaped well to sweep and gather soil properly.  

Gloves

 

Gardening without the proper equipment can leave you susceptible to allergens, bacteria and cuts from sharp rocks, thorns, or pointy foreign objects that may be in the soil. This makes a good pair of gardening gloves a good investment to keep your green hands safe. Look for a pair that is well knitted and lightweight. Leather is also a good material to look for as it helps provide a good grip.

gardening glovesFork

 

Another multi-purpose tool for the newbie gardener. A fork can work as an aerator and a soil cultivator. This also works great for mixing compost, wood chips, organic mulch and rubber mulch, wood chips, and manure. A smaller fork works best for small shrubs and flowerbeds. Looked for forged steel as they are stronger and more suitable for digging through compacted soil and hard rocks. This works hand in hand with your garden trowel.

Garden Shears

From pruning, trimming vines, cutting herbs, and even grass – just make sure to keep it clean in between uses. A good, lightweight pair of garden shears can go a long way. Sharp is the best trait your pruning shears can have. Sharp enough to create clean cut stems or vines to prevent diseases from infecting your plants. If you are suffering from arthritis, carpal tunnel or other physical ailments, many garden shears are designed with adjustable tensions and ergonomic grip to make the task easier.

 

Watering Can

watering can

A portable container with a spout is your best bet to make sure you water you plants deeply and evenly. The best part? You don’t necessary need to spend with this tool. All you need is some creativity to upcycle items that can be found at your home. You can piece hole on a used plastic bottle or recycle an old can and you’re set

That didn’t sound so expensive right? From there you can start building your tool collection as your garden grows. Looking for more tips to save on gardening? Here are 10 gardening hacks that can help without creating a huge dent on your wallet.