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Down with the Bug
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Bugs never sleep.
They mount an ongoing assault, wave after pestilent wave, against the cornucopian paradise lying within our garden's boundaries.  And yet, despite their highly evolved abilities to find and take our food, we are not without our defenses.  What appears to the unschooled observer to be a quiet place of vegetal bliss, our garden is in reality every bit as complex and protectively designed as a castle with its battlements, moats, and guard animals.  Pests may attack, but they do so at their peril.  Death, and not the sweet juices of a ripening tomato, is their most common reward.
Our main garden is bordered is surrounded by sort of a moat; an insect wall of death.  On one side is a pond teeming with bream and bass, all eager to consume any hapless insect that comes too close to the surface of the water.  On the other three sides of the garden are long runs of chicken pens, and these form the main killing fields for any pest with an underdeveloped sense of self-preservation that attempts a slow crawl toward the gardens.
These  defensive elements address land assaults, but we are also fortified against aerial sorties.  We have a large bat house that provides nocturnal air cover, while during the day our bluebirds perform a similar service.  We have placed dozens of bluebird boxes on the farm, and each year we get a bountiful crop of these beautiful insect killers.  It's impossible to walk in the garden and not see a bright flash of blue as the male bluebirds go about their incessant patrolling.
Here's the bat house:
And here's a bluebird house:
To minimize insect damage, we plant a number of different vegetable varieties in close proximity.  This creates a mini-ecosystem where diverse bug species can live, and frequently among those species are predator bugs that dine on the pests that would attack our plants.  So, it's not unusual, for example, to plant carrots with beans --bugs that attack climbing plants will rarely attack root vegetables, and so one variety provides some insurance for the other.
We also plant flowers that attract predator bugs and repel pest species.   (They also add some nice color to the garden.)
The effect of the guard flowers is supplemented by roving patrols of free-range chickens that are always eager to lay waste to any bug lucky enough to make it to the gardens.
And if all else fails, we can always rely on the occult powers of our magic pig skull, the Lord of the Flies, to ward off evil spirits.