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Organic Gardening Tips
Terra Viva Organics

New Products
Attract Beneficial Insects to Your Garden
Time to Start Your Tomatoes
Make Your Own Bee Condo
Sugared Asparagus

New Products

Click here to purchase My First Garden We have a number of exciting products that we can't wait to show you:
  1. 1. My First Garden - A child's garden kit complete with small gloves, a soil scoop, mini watering can, fertilizer (Flower Power), and 15 seeds each of Scarlet Runner Beans and Giant Sunflowers (yes, the grow over 15 ft tall!)

  2. 2. Bee Straws - Use these straws to make your own Orchard Mason Bee House. The straws can be used on their own with some insulation (see story below) or to line holes drilled in wood, allowing you to re-use the holes again.Click here to purchase your Circle Hoe

  3. Circle Hoe - a unique hand tool especially made for tight spaces around seedlings and container plants.

  4. Orchid Twists - You just have to see how beautiful these orchid supports are. Made of stainless steel.

Attract Beneficial Insects to Your Garden

by Sharon Hanna
For years, well-meaning gardeners routinely maimed, swatted, sprayed and squished every bug they could get their hands on. However careful observation of nature and the move to organic practices have shown that encouraging beneficial insects is one way to give Mother Nature a hand.

Lets look at three common beneficials, and how to attract them to your garden:

Beetles. You undoubtedly know these large, fast moving, shiny metallic-blue-black beetles! They snooze underneath pieces of rotten logs and stones and are nocturnal, dining ravenously after dark upon cutworms, root maggots, and slug eggs, miscellaneous larvae and pupae of undesirables, flea beetles, and leaf hoppers.

To attract more beetles, imitate nature. Along a shady edge, away from foot traffic, dig a trench three to six inches deep, and a foot wide. Plant mint, or lemon balm, or even red or white clover, along the inside edges. Drop shovels of peat moss, leaf mulch, coniferous needles, whatever organic material you have, along the slopes and then place a couple of big, flat rocks in the ditch. The beetles will hide under the rocks in the daytime.

Syrphid Flies aka "hover flies" are important pollinators, and their larvae prey on many 'bad' bugs, but aphids are their favourite. Once hatched, the larvae decimate aphid families in a hurry. The 1/2 inch creature is often mistaken for a "bad" worm or slug, so if you come across a legless, see-through greenish-beige creature, slightly pointy at one end, do not kill him, but wish him 'bon appetit'!

Parsley flowers attract beneficialsTo attract syrphids, choose plants of the umbelliferae family: fennel, dill, caraway, parsley, coriander, yarrow, or allow carrots to winter over. All produce beautifully symmetrical seed-heads called umbels, attracting a host of beneficials. According to a recent Oregon State University study, buckwheat is also extremely attractive to syrphids. They also like cornflowers (bachelor buttons), marigolds, chamomile, coreopsis, and feverfew.

Lady Beetles, also known as "ladybugs", feed heavily on aphids. Become familiar with the ladybug in the larval stage. It looks a bit like an elongated grey-black dragon with many little legs, and orange to red markings.

Click here to purchase your own ladybugs

All stages of ladybugs from larvae to adult feed on aphids. Ladybugs are attracted to cosmos, especially white, and to goldenrod, caraway, fennel, yarrow and other umbelliferae. All are easily grown from seed. Lady beetles also like to lay their eggs amongst the long grass, so try to leave a strip un-mowed if you can.

In general, beneficial insects are attracted to plants from families including compositae (daisy family); the mint family (all kinds of mints, lemon balm, and more); umbelliferae (carrot family, parsley, fennel); and the brassica family, a huge family which includes cabbages, cauliflower, oriental greens, arugula, radish and more. These produce flowers containing the type of nectar which beneficial insects use as fuel for flight and movement.

Also it is good manners to provide your insect guests with a drink, in this case water, to wash down the aphids. This can be achieved simply: placing a plastic tray or any kind of pan in your garden and fill it with water. Put rocks in the water for them to stand on.

Sharon Hanna is a Horticultural Writer for Terra Viva Organics

Time to Start Your Tomatoes

by Arzeena Hamir
Tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed and now is the time to start tomato seeds indoors. The seeds themselves are easy to handle and can be planted in any type of container you have around the house. I prefer to start 3 seeds in 2" pots; however, yogurt containers, milk cartons, & even egg cartons can all be used.

The key to starting tomato seed is:

Purchase your organic tomato seeds now

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