Create an Insectiary!

| July 17, 2012 | 3 Replies

Create an insectiary in your garden to attract beneficial insects! In “Wild Farm,” episode 15 of “Late Bloomer,” we meet Lisa Putnam and her sister Kathleen, who are master gardeners and they take us on a tour of Lisa’s family farm in Woodside, CA. Lisa explained that her insectiary brings in beneficial insects which eat the bad insects, like aphids!

Create an Insectiary - hedgerow of flowers

Insectiary at Wild Farm

Insectiaries are areas staffed with those types of plants which will attract beneficial insects. They particularly love flowers that are flat on top, Kathleen said, called umbels, like carrot, dill, parsley and yarrow. Let those go to seed, Lisa said, and they bring in beneficial insects which will reduce your crop-destroyers.

Create an Insectiary! - Kathleen

Kathleen demonstrates the umbel shape of yarrow

I returned with the intention of planting some insectary plants in my small garden.

The California native plants that I bought at Grow Native Nursery over the weekend serve two purposes, to bring in beneficial insects and attract lots of butterflies, and also to promote drought tolerant plants which need no fertilizers and exist very well in California’s hard clay soils. Yesterday, I removed a huge bush under my olive tree, that required a lot of maintenance, with the purpose of reconditioning the soil and starting my insectiary.

Create an Insectiary - Digging stump

Digging out stump of large bush

This turned into quite an operation with my neighbor, C.L., giving me a hand with his 25 pound iron pole/blade. Between the two of us, pushing, pulling and slamming that blade down into the roots about 50 times, we finally got it out. The bush nearly filled my garden waste bin.

Create an Insectiary! - sawed bush

Sawed bush sections, enough to fill a green bin

That was a lot more work than I imagined, but getting it out was only the beginning. I raked and pulled out roots and stones for about two more hours before I was able to add some sifted soil to the mix.

Create an Insectiary! - filled hole

Hole filled with sandy soil

Truly an urban gardening scene, here. Dog walkers just have to go around when I’m gardening near the sidewalk.

Create an Insectiary! - encampment

Curbside gardening means you have to get the sidewalk dirty!

I’m also going to plant butterfly bush across the sidewalk under the Princess Flower, but first, I have to remove some invasive wood sorrel that shot up since the buckwheat was cut. That’s my job for this afternoon.

Create an insectiary! - wood sorrel

Wood sorrel is very invasive

This spots gets only about four to five hours of direct sun per day, so I planted sun/part sun Solanum and one of the milkweeds, Asclepias fascicularis behind it. The milkweed will get weedy at the bottom, so by planting the Solanum in front, it will hide the weediness of the milkweed. Here’s the finished result, last night about 8PM.

Create an Insectiary! - native plants

My insectiary of California native plants

Are you growing flowers to attract beneficial insects? Please let me know and please share this post. Thanks for reading! – Kaye

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Category: Beneficials, California Native Plants, Critters, Curbside Gardening

Comments (3)

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  1. looking forward to the show!

  2. oceannah says:

    That sorrel is nice an lemony pot-herb, up there w/ traditional sorrel btw…taste it! Good on fish or in a salad…although I don’t know if you want to eat from the sidewalk, I’m guessing it’s not too far from the road.

    • It’s a few inches from the sidewalk and the dogs pee wherever they feel like it. But, I heard I had to get a handle on it or it would be everywhere. So I can put in a pot….

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