At The Chef's Garden, we grow crops in harmony with nature, which includes the use of natural pest control. As part of that process, we rely on microscopic beneficial insects—sometimes called “beneficials”—that serve as predators, a tiny army fighting against the bad bugs that like to wreak havoc on leaves and edible flowers.
As part of this natural pest control process, our greenhouse team checks our plants daily—and, as we confirm that the leaves are free from damage, we thank the beneficials.
The beneficial insects are transported into our greenhouses while being inside of canisters filled with material resembling pencil shavings. These beneficials are so tiny that you’d only see them under magnification; even then, you’d need to zero in with a keen eye. Our farm team then distributes these beneficials onto plants using a device that resembles an electric hair dryer. Imagine a gentle shower of this material settling delicately on the leaves. In between applications, additional beneficials are placed directly on the plants.
Not All Beneficial Insects Are the Same
Each beneficial feeds on certain pests, so our farm team carefully analyzes what pest may be sneaking around looking for lunch—and then they select the appropriate beneficials to protect them. What lurks on leaves? The edible flowers? Beneath the soil?
One type of beneficial insect might be chosen to combat flower thrips and mites. Another type likes to consume spider mites and their eggs. Yet another kind goes after soil-borne larvae and pupae. Even when beneficials themselves are only larvae, they know how to find their food, which includes pests and pollen. Once they’ve done their job and the pests are gone, adult beneficials do just fine by eating pollen.
Benefits of the Beneficials
They’re safe. They’re all natural. They’re highly effective.
They’re a gentle form of natural pest control, less expensive than other options and quicker and easier to use than conventional methods. Plus, once they’re applied, these beneficial insects do their thing without a need for the farm team to help them—so our team is freed up to do other work that allows us to grow and harvest nutritious and delicious crops.
Insects communicate through chemicals called pheromones and these substances play a role in the natural pest control techniques that we use at The Chef's Garden. These pheromones can be applied to plants to help protect them against pests by interrupting their ability to mate and grow their populations. It doesn’t take much of an application to stop pests’ abilities to mate.
Regenerative Farming Techniques
Our pest control procedures are just part of a bigger farming philosophy: regenerative agriculture where we focus on maximizing soil health.
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